Barnabas Aid - International Headquarters River Street, Pewsey, Wilthire. Phone: +44 1672 565030 Latitude: 51 deg 23 min 18 sec N Longitude: 1 deg 45 min 48 sec W .
Christian minorities vulnerable as revol...

Email:

Christian minorities vulnerable as revolution spreads

To

Email address:
Separate multiple addresses with a comma (,). Maximum of 10

From

Your name:
Your email address:
Security test:
Please enter the numbers that appear here in the box below.
refresh captcha
CAPTCHA Image
Security code:

Details provided here will never be used in any other context

Christian minorities vulnerable as revolution spreads

Country/Region: Middle East and North Africa, Egypt, Tunisia

The overthrow of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak has set pulses racing throughout the world with the revolutionary spirit spreading across Africa and the Middle East. But while the Western media is delighting in this "power to the people" movement, Barnabas Aid is concerned about what the future may hold for Christian minorities in this troubled region.

Mubarak: "the best of the worst"?

Egypt-Tahrir-Sq_4X3.jpg

Elections for a new Egyptian government are not expected to take place for at least six months, and until then the country will be ruled by the military council. There are fears that Egypt's largest opposition movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, which this week announced plans to form a political party once restrictions on its activities are lifted, will use its influence to impose a stricter Islamic character on the country.

Though Egypt's revolution has not been Islamic in nature, a poll published by the US-based Pew Research Center a month before the protests broke out revealed that there would be some support for the Brotherhood's agenda. Some 95 per cent of Egyptian Muslims said that it is "good that Islam plays a large role in politics". Worryingly for Christian converts from Islam, 84 per cent said apostates should face the death penalty, although 61 per cent said they were "very concerned" or "concerned" about Islamist extremism in Egypt.

On Tuesday, an Islamist judge was appointed to head the committee drawing up Egypt's new constitution. The military council's choice of Tarek al-Bishry, who has been associated with Al-Wasat, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, has angered those who fear a takeover by the Islamist group. Christians want to see the removal of Article 2, which makes sharia the main source of law and them second-class citizens; this now seems unlikely.

Under Mubarak, Egyptian Christians endured years of suffering, including violence at the hands of Islamists and serious discrimination in public life. But many Christians expect that his overthrow will lead to worse conditions for them - how much worse depending on the extent of Islamist influence. Sameh Joseph, a church worker in Alexandria, said: "He's (Mubarak) the best of the worst. Whoever comes after him might want to destroy us."

Tunisia's Ayatollah Khomeini?

The Tunisian revolution has been widely credited as the spark for the Egyptian uprising and similar protests in other Muslim-majority states. Although the Tunisians, like the Egyptians, were motivated by economic, political and social concerns rather than religion, an Islamist group is emerging there too as a powerful force as the country looks ahead to elections.

Rachid Ghannouchi, the exiled leader of Tunisia's main Islamist group, Ennahda, returned to the country earlier this month, prompting fears that he may be trying to transform a popular revolt into an Islamic revolution, on the pattern of Ayatollah Khomeini's return to Iran in 1979.

The revolution that ousted President Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali last month comes amid a growing Islamic fervency among many Tunisians. Christianity is already very restricted in Tunisia, both in terms of the number of Christians and the limitations placed upon them, especially converts. In the event of increased Islamist influence in government, the Church's future in the North African country, which is 99 per cent Muslim, would be even more precarious.

However, Tunisia is currently among the most secular of Muslim states and there is resistance to the imposition of sharia law and the wider Islamist agenda. Because the revolution was not of the Islamists' making, any attempts to Islamise Tunisian society may be frustrated.

Protests have also been breaking out elsewhere in the Muslim world. This week Iran and Bahrain joinied the ever-growing list of unsettled countries, which already includes Algeria, Jordan and Yemen. Christians across the region are awaiting the outcome of the current unrest with a mixture of hope and trepidation.

Help us: Share this article

Email:

Christian minorities vulnerable as revolution spreads

To

Email address:
Separate multiple addresses with a comma (,). Maximum of 10

From

Your name:
Your email address:
Security test:
Please enter the numbers that appear here in the box below.
refresh captcha
CAPTCHA Image
Security code:

Details provided here will never be used in any other context

christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

Other articles

Follow Barnabas

or

receive news & appeal emails as they are published

From Twitter

From Twitter_icon

    Daily prayer

    Daily prayer_icon
    • “The cathedral in Damaturu now has only about 40 members instead of 450 members. The church in Potiskum now has only about 15 members instead of 500 members… the southern part of [Yobe state] is still very dangerous and most of the churches here have closed down.” A senior church leader in Nigeria wrote to Barnabas Aid in August about the impact on the Church of Boko Haram’s violence. Nevertheless Christians were still holding worship services every Sunday, discipling the young people and even commissioning pastors. Praise God for such perseverance, and pray that a Christian presence and witness may remain in north-east Nigeria. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 1 hour ago

    • Heavenly Father, we pray to You for our Christian brothers and sisters in north-eastern Nigeria, who are so vulnerable in the face of attacks by Boko Haram militants. We remember especially those who used to live in Madagali, in Adamawa state, until their town was seized by Boko Haram two months ago. We think of those who were betrayed into the hands of Boko Haram by their neighbours pointing out Christian homes or places where Christians had hidden. We bring before You those who saw their menfolk beheaded, and women forcibly converted to Islam. We cry out to You to intervene and bring an end to the murderous attacks by Boko Haram. We pray for all the thousands of Nigerian Christians who have suffered in similar attacks that they will not lose hope or faith in You, but will know Your peace which passes understanding. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Pray for a pastor in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania whose home was attacked on 17 May; two of his children were injured. When he went to report the incident to the police, he was falsely accused of raping a young woman who had left Islam to follow Christ. The pastor had taken her into his home, along with four other converts, after she was thrown out by her family; it was they who made the accusation against him. He has faced much opposition because of his fruitful outreach to Muslims, and several failed attempts have been made to frame him with false accusations. Pray that the sovereign Lord will help him and that he will not be disgraced (Isaiah 50:7-9). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Oct 2014 00:00

    • A church on Mafia Island, part of the Zanzibar archipelago, was attacked on 9 May by around 80 young Muslim men armed with arrows and knives. The church members, who are mainly converts from Islam, had gathered for their weekly overnight prayer session when the attackers appeared, shouting “death to ritad’i” (those who leave Islam). They set fi re to the church, leaving the interior in ruins, and then went in search of the pastor, but he was not at home. The incident followed a bomb blast at another church in Mwanza in mainland Tanzania on 5 May, in which a worker at the church rest house was critically injured. Pray that the authorities will effectively address the increasing incidence of attacks against churches. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Oct 2014 00:00

    • Cry out to the Lord for the many Christian victims of kidnapping by Boko Haram in Nigeria. Remember especially the more than two hundred teenage girls who were taken from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno state, on the night of 14 April. A video released in May showed eight of the girls speaking about their ordeal; they plead for their release, and one says, “I never expected to suffer like this in my life.” It is believed that they have been divided into at least four groups and that most of them are being held in camps outside Nigeria. They are hungry, while some are unwell and need medical attention. Pray for their safe release and for that of other kidnapped Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Oct 2014 00:00

    © Barnabas Aid 1997 - 2014 All rights reserved.
    Barnabas Aid is a registered trade mark