A Christian man, Medhat Ishak, 35, is home with his family in Minya, Egypt after spending weeks in jail for distributing Bibles. He is charged with the crime of “despising religion”, and still faces up to three years in prison, although his lawyers say that the case should be dropped since no crime was committed.
On Friday, 7th August, Medhat was at suburban mall near Cairo handing out Bibles when he was confronted by a Muslim man. Though Medhat assured the man that he did not have to take a Bible, he was escorted to the mall’s private security office, where he was arrested. The officers reportedly mistreated Medhat and questioned him before sending him to a local police station.
The following morning, State Security officers came to the police station to interrogate Medhat. He responded to their questions, telling the officers that he had distributed the Bibles on his own, was part of a church and believed the Bible to be true.
Initially, Medhat was given a four-day detention and charged with “harming national unity.” Officials also sent the nine Bibles Medhat had to the Bible Society in Cairo to verify their authenticity. The charges against him were later changed to “despising religion,” which carries a prison sentence of anywhere from six months to three years.
According to Medhat’s lawyers, the case should be dismissed, because distributing religious literature is not a crime in Egypt. However, several attempts to appeal the case were turned down and, on 24th August, a judge added another two weeks to the detention period while the matter was investigated, though no cause was given.
On 7th September, Medhat was given bail. He paid 3,500 Egyptian pounds (approximately $400) and is now home with his family.
While the case remains open, Voice of Martyrs workers are not certain what will happen next. They ask for prayer that “nothing will hinder [Medhat] from doing the will of God.”
- Pray for Medhat and his family, for their faith and courage to remain strong despite the uncertainties facing Medhat. Pray for peace and for them to be aware of God’s goodness and love at this time.
- Pray that they charges against him will be dropped, and for protection on him, his family and his church.
- Pray for the Church in Egypt, as it faces constant and growing pressure and oppression.
- Pray for the witness of Christians in Egypt to bring fruit for God’s kingdom, and that many across this country and region will encounter Christ and turn their lives to him.
Psalm 31 vs 20: “In the shelter of your presence you hide them from all human intrigues; you keep them safe in your dwelling from accusing tongues.”
Source: Voice of Martyrs – http://www.persecution.com