The six-week standoff between an Egyptian government installed by the army and supporters of ousted President Morsi came to a violent end yesterday (15 August) with at least 525 deaths and 3,572 injured (BBC report 15/8/2013). As the army crackdown occurred, reprisal attacks that had been threatened during the protests were made by Morsi sympathisers against many buildings across the country. Government institutions such as police stations, and Christian buildings, including churches, schools and shops, were targeted.
SAT-7’s Egypt Executive Director, Farid Garas, supplied this report as these events were unfolding:
“This morning, the police and the army started to clear the squares from the sit-in of the Pro Morsi demonstrators. Protesters were asked to leave through a ‘Safe Exit”. Most went home, but some refused and stayed. After that the police began clearing the squares. There are many casualties and widely differing estimates of these so we are not sure of the numbers yet.
“Pro-Morsi supporters all over Egypt and especially in upper Egypt are burning churches (around 28 so far), 15 police stations, schools, theatres, army camps, and they are trying to attack important buildings such as the Alexandria library.
“The interim president announced an emergency state (applying the emergency law) for one month, and there will be a curfew at 11 governorates from 7:00 pm to 6:00 am.
“Pope Tawadros II made a statement about what is happening to churches saying that this was expected, and as Egyptians, we Christians are considering the church buildings a sacrifice to our beloved Egypt.
“Many church leaders have made similar statements stressing that church buildings don’t make the church but the church is the body of Christ made of people and their faith in him, and that is getting stronger facing these challenges.
“Some Muslims have gone to protect churches, and a lot of Christians are sending messages to their fellow Muslim citizens saying, “Buildings can be rebuilt again, but you are priceless, so stay safe, and don’t worry about the churches”.
“SAT-7’s staff in Cairo have worked from home today, and hopefully tomorrow can work from 8:00 to 4:00. All the staff are safe.
“SAT-7 is scheduled to broadcast a live worship meeting tomorrow night from the Cave Church (in Moqattam, Cairo), but since that is during the curfew hours, this will be cancelled.
“Bridges, our weekly current affairs programme, has been covering the political situation ever since the anti- and pro-Morsi protests began at the end of June, helping viewers better understand and engage with the situation from a biblical faith perspective. This Saturday we hope to broadcast as usual and cover the attacks on churches and organisations as well as the decision of Christian leaders to refuse outside protection to show that the Church is standing for freedom over force.
“It seems like we are experiencing a pruning process of the living body of Egypt. It sure hurts, but it is important and we are sure we will see the fruit of freedom, and we trust the Creator who is in control.”
- Pray for God to give a spirit of forgiveness to all who feel wronged or are suffering or grieving in this crisis
- Pray for protection for Christians and their property, particularly in areas where they are most vulnerable
- Give thanks for those Muslims and Christians who are showing solidarity and care for one another
- Ask that the longing of most Egyptians for a free, fair and equal society will speak louder than the use of force and oppression by any group
- Pray for a healing of divisions and willingness to make concessions on the part of the army and Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood supporters
- Intercede for the continued safety of SAT-7 staff and premises to continue their vital part in the SAT-7 ARABIC channel and sharing God’s love across the Arabic-speaking world
Give now to support dialogue and democracy in Egypt
Speaking on UCB radio on Tuesday 20 August, Farid said how SAT-7 broadcasts like its weekly current affairs show, Bridges, are encouraging Christians as they try to play an increasing role in Egyptian society and work with democratically minded Muslims to build a fairer society.
He said: “Bridges is a platform for Christians and Muslims to come together, not just to weep over what happened, but to discuss how to build the country.”
Read more about Bridges and donate to support and strengthen dialogue and democracy.
In an interview with UCB radio about a youth event in Egypt (25 July) Farid Samir spoke of SAT-7’s hopes for Egyptians to build an equal society together, regardless of differing beliefs. Listen here