In the small village of Samalout, 137 miles south of Cairo, Christians were surprised and excited when they unexpectedly received permission from local authorities to rebuild their destroyed church building. Permits to build or rebuild local village churches in Egypt are rarely granted and usually bring strong Muslim opposition.
However, when the construction work started last week, Muslim extremists in the village looked to force the work to stop. Eventually, the Samalout police department called for a meeting between leaders from the church and more than 100 Muslims from the village who didn’t want the church rebuilt.
The meeting ended with no resolution, and immediately, the angry Muslims returned to the village. They took to the streets, shouting: “Egypt will become an Islamic State,” chanting hostile slogans against Christians and stoning the houses of some Christians.
According to an update from a Christian leader, the Muslims from the village and the police have now reached an agreement that will allow the Christians to rebuild their church, but only with adherence to a list of conditions set by the Muslims. The conditions are:
– The church must be built on only 400-square meters of the total property with no steeple or bell, no crosses or any otherconstruction that shows the building to be a church. It must also be only one storey and representatives from the Muslim community must be present when the foundation is laid, to make sure that it is only made for a one-floor building.
– The entrance should not be at the side of the building and not on the main road.
– If the new church building is knocked down or burned for any reason, it must never be rebuilt again.
The conditions, once accepted by the church, must be set out in a legally registered document, so the Christians can never negotiate them again.
- Pray for Christians in Samalout, who, like many other Christians in Egypt, face harassment and harsh restrictions by Muslim extremists on a daily basis.
- Pray for the Church to be built and, even with the restrictions, to be a beacon of light and hope in the village.
- Pray for the Egyptian Government to actively seek ways to protect the Christian communities.
Acts 16 vs 5: “So the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in numbers daily.”