Egyptian Christians Want More from President al-Sisi’s Government

The Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, addresses the media in Cairo. Photograph: APAImages/Rex/Shutterstock

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi rose to power by leading the overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood strongman Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Many of Egypt’s Christians viewed him as a “savior” from Islamic extremism in their homeland.

But some are losing faith due to ongoing injustice and inequality for religious minorities, while others want the government to provide greater security as extremists threaten and target them with violence.

Islamic extremists have murdered seven Copts in the Sinai city of el-Arish since the end of January. The violence prompted 258 Coptic families to flee the city, according to the Egypt Independent. Human Rights Watch said the execution-style murders fit the Islamic State (ISIS) “pattern,” although the group hasn’t claimed them. In other cities, radicals slit the throats of five more Copts.

In December, ISIS not only took credit for the deadly St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral bombing in Cairo, but threatened more like it.

Michael, an Egyptian evangelical whose ministry supports local churches and the persecuted, told me Christians want greater security. His group partners with Open Doors.

“We would appreciate if the government or the security officials would run for our help,” said Michael, who declined to give his full name out of fear for his life. “Sometimes they are slow and because they don’t want to engage in fights against the radical groups they choose not to interfere until a considerably long time after an attack or an attempt of an attack.”

At the same time, he said many Egyptian Muslims are “ashamed of those attacks” and in Egyptian media many programs “denounce and reject” them.

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Julia A. Seymour