Sunday, March 20th, 2011
I posted photos and wrote about Mokattam Village in Cairo last year when we visited there. That area of Cairo is the home of the highest concentration of Christians in the country. Mokattam is familiarly known as “the garbage village,” and its primary economy is the collection and recycling of the city’s refuse. But even Christians who work elsewhere choose to live in Mokattam because of the influence of the church in this neighborhood.
Last week, I could see in my mind the streets and churches and people of Mokattam when I read an email and a then heard a news report.
National Public Radio:
In New Egypt, Christians Face Old Discrimination
Headline, Steve Inskeep on National Public Radio.
Email from Egyptian friend who has ministered 28 years in Mukattam:
We need prayer—big time! Already 10 have died, many are seriously injured, and 8 houses and several factories have been burned!
The torching of [a] church recently was part of a series of incidents. . . . People from a largely Christian neighborhood staged a demonstration. Muslims confronted them. Soldiers appeared, and someone opened fire.
Email from friend:
Yesterday some of the youth from the Village wanted to show their solidarity with the people of the Coptic church that was burned down last week on the outskirts of Cairo. (Many homes and small shops were also burned down by the Muslims in that village.) So they unwisely went down to the highway below the Village where they had a demonstration . . . .
Suddenly, about 4:00 P.M., large groups of Muslim youths from surrounding areas began to form and attack the Christians. Within hours there were many thousands in the fight, and the attackers had all kinds of weapons, whereas the Village youth mostly had stones. Although the army sent in several tanks, they apparently did nothing until later in the evening, when they are reported by eye witnesses to have shot in the air indiscriminately. . . .
Although over 130 people were injured, most through gun shots and some very seriously, no ambulances or fire engines arrived at the Village until early the next morning. Our 2, rather primitive hospitals up there did there best to treat the wounded and many people are now in the city hospitals. So far, 10 have died, 9 of them young Christians and 1 a Muslim who lives at the Village and was defending his home there.
A memorial service was held Thursday for many of the Christian dead. A Coptic priest spoke to a crowd of thousands, including the families of many victims.
“The pains of this life,” he told the families, “are nothing compared to the glorious state we will be in in the afterlife.”
The priest was speaking in a room that symbolizes Egypt’s Christian minority. It was vast -– and it was underground.
It’s a hillside cave that has been turned into a meeting hall, with relief sculptures of saints carved on the walls.
Email from friend:
We need prayer, dear friends—lots of lots of it! We hate to see our beloved country collapsing like this, people going hungry, and Christians possibly becoming scapegoats for all ills. We need the world-wide body of believers to bring these problems to our sovereign, powerful and loving Lord.
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