On 25th November, a Muslim mob gathered after Friday prayers and launched a coordinated attack on Christian homes and business in the Egyptian town of al-Naghameesh. The attack was incited by false rumours that the Christian community was about to open a church.
A Christian-owned guesthouse was torched, a shop looted and ten homes damaged in the attack, during which the water supply to al-Naghameesh was cut off and the road blocked to prevent fire engines reaching the town.
Police did intervene to disperse the mob and make arrests, and the local governor has subsequently stated that the regional government will cover the cost of repairs to the guesthouse, assuring the Christian community that justice will be served.
The attack is reminiscent of the heightened anti-Christian violence in June and July 2016, (https://pray.interserve.org/pray-for-the-church-in-egypt-after-a-series-of-attacks/) which witnessed a series of similar mob attacks on Christian communities following false claims that existing buildings, or ones under construction, were to become churches.
Although there are 2,000 Christians in al-Naghameesh, which is around 280 miles south of Cairo, there is no church building in the town. An application to use space for church meetings in a Christian community centre, that also houses a pre-school and a home for the elderly, is is awaiting approval.
In August, Egypt’s parliament passed landmark legislation to allow easier construction of churches, overturning Ottoman-era regulations that tightly restricted church building. Under the new laws, applications for new churches must be considered by local governors within four month, whereas, previously, such applications required the approval of the head of state and took years to process, with many being refused.
The proactive response of the local governor following the attack in al-Naghameesh is welcome, but true justice must also include upholding the Christian community’s right to establish places of worship, as clearly stated in the Egyptian constitution.
- Pray for Egypt’s Christian communities, as they face continuing attacks, threats and oppression from the, increasingly fundamentalist, Muslim communities around them.
- Pray for the victims of this latest attack. Pray for peace in their hearts and homes, for restoration of property that was damaged, and for protection from further attacks.
- Pray for reconciliation between Egypt’s Muslim and Christian communities, who have lived side by side for centuries.
- Pray for the government of Egypt, both national and local, to uphold the constitution and the rights of Christians to meet and worship together in freedom.
Psalm 5 vs 1: “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, so that those who love your name may exult in you.”