On February 1, Tharwat Bukhit, a Coptic Christian member of Egypt’s parliament, said that “there are approximately 50 churches in Egypt that are closed for reasons of security.” In 2011—when the “Arab Spring” began—the nation’s Christians had compiled a list of 43 churches that were shut down by local authorities over the years. This list was given to the then prime minister of Egypt, Dr. Essam Sharaf, who said the churches would be opened as soon as possible. Yet according to the Coptic MP, “Today, the number of closed churches has grown to almost 50.”
Why are Christian churches being “closed for reasons of security”? Whenever Christians attempt to repair, renovate, or build a church—all of which contradict Islamic law—the same events follow: local Muslims riot and rampage and local (Muslim) officials conclude that the only way to prevent “angry youth” from acts of violence is to ban the church, which is then seen and treated as a “threat” to security.
These sequences of events have occurred repeatedly throughout Egypt—most famously when Egyptian President Sisi agreed for a memorial church to be built in Al-Our village, where 13 of the 21 Christians who were beheaded by the Islamic State in Libya were from and where their families still live. In response, Muslim mobs from Al-Our village rose in violence after Islamic prayers on Friday, April 3, 2015. They yelled that they would never allow a church to be built, that “Egypt is Islamic!” Molotov cocktails and stones were thrown at another Coptic church, cars were set ablaze—including one belonging to a relative of one of the those Christians decapitated by the Islamic State—and several people were injured.
In Sohag City, a similar chain of events took place. After waiting 44 years, the Christians of Nag Shenouda were issued the necessary permits to build a church. According to a 2015 report, local Muslims rioted and burned down the temporary worship tent. When a Christian tried to hold a religious service in his home, a Muslim mob attacked it. Denied a place to worship, the Christians of Nag Shenouda celebrated Easter 2015 in the street… Keep reading