Saturday, March 7, 2020

Egypt’s Coptic Christians Must Never Be Forgotten

The following is an unedited press release by Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC), a Christian human rights organization dedicated to raising awareness of the persecution and genocide of Christians around the world. The photo is from Reuters/Social Media via Reuters TV.

Five Years After 21 Christian Men Were Beheaded in Libya, Plight Remains Desperate for Believers in Egypt 

WASHINGTON—Upon the death of 91-year-old former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 25, Fox News reported that the 30-year ruler had been a “stalwart U.S. ally and a bulwark against Islamic militancy.”

“But to the tens of thousands of young Egyptians who rallied for 18 days of unprecedented street protests in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square and elsewhere in 2011, Mubarak was a relic, a latter-day pharaoh. Nearly 900 protesters were killed during that stretch, which ended when Mubarak stepped down and handed over his power to the military.”

Although sentenced to life in prison for involvement in the killing of anti-government protesters during the uprising, notes Save the Persecuted Christians, which advocates on behalf of hundreds of millions of Christians facing heavy persecution worldwide, Mubarak had been subsequently acquitted and released in 2017 by the current president, Abdel Fatteh El-Sisi. On the anniversary of their martyrdom, the government of Egypt opened a museum to honor “The 21” as they have come to be known. 

Today, while looking back to that period of Egypt’s history, Save the Persecuted Christians wants to ensure that the Christians still living—and being persecuted—in Egypt are not forgotten. 

(Photo: Reuters/Social Media via Reuters TV)
“Just over five years ago, 21 Christians—20 from Egypt and one from Ghana—were martyred in Libya, as the world was shocked by stunning images of these brave Christian men in orange jumpsuits being beheaded one by one,” said STPC Executive Director Dede Laugesen. “We must never forget them, as they will always be a symbol of the hundreds of millions of Christians worldwide who are persecuted, tortured, kidnapped raped and murdered for their faith in Jesus Christ. Unbelievably, Christian persecution seems to have heightened, not waned, since these 21 men made the ultimate sacrifice for their faith.”

Laugesen added that the plight of persecuted Egyptian Christians remains a concern. For instance, according to Persecution.org, a Christian man in Egypt imprisoned on blasphemy charges remains incarcerated, although he was due for release on Jan. 22. Abd Adel Bebawy was sentenced to three years in 2018, six months after he was arrested in his home village of Minbal. “A Facebook post on his profile had motivated extremist Muslims to attack the homes of several Christians,” 

Persecution.org reports. “Bebawy’s family was displaced from the village, and still cannot return.”
Egypt ranks number 16 on the 2020 Open Doors USA Worldwatch List of the 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution.

Save the Persecuted Christians continues to track stories of multiple women and girls in Egypt who have been kidnapped, forcibly converted and married to Muslims. Many of them have been murdered and their killers allowed to escape justice in a country that frequently elevates the testimony of Muslims over that of Christians. The cases of these victims are often summarily dismissed without proper investigation leaving their families to mourn their loss without hope of resolution.

The mission of Save the Persecuted Christians is to save lives and save souls by disseminating actionable information about the magnitude of the persecution taking place globally and by mobilizing concerned Americans for the purpose of disincentivizing further attacks on those who follow Jesus.

One way is through STPC’s “Warfare on Women” exhibit which features images, facts and quotes about the persecution of Christian women in multiple countries. The banner entitled “Widowed” highlights the story of one of the widows of the 21 martyrs and reports: Egyptian Coptic Christian Ibitsam IIhim was widowed when her husband, Samuel, was beheaded by ISIS along with 20 others on the sea shore of Libya in February, 2015. In the documentary, ‘Christians in the Mirror’, she remarks, ‘When we heard that they didn’t deny Jesus, and that they died in His name, we were all flooded with happiness and appreciation that their death didn’t go in vain. It was a relief.’”

“I’m proud of every single Christian around the world who stands by and protects their faith,” continues IIhim.

Additional banners in “Warfare on Women” tell the story of other women, like Leah Sharibu from Nigeria, who have been targeted by terrorists to demean and degrade their dignity in order to cause fear in Christian communities.

With so much of the world’s Christian population being imprisoned and/or harassed for their beliefs, such as Coptic Christians in Egypt, the need has never been greater for the sort of grassroots campaign STPC’s SaveUs Movement is working to foster. Its efforts are modeled after a miraculously successful one that helped free another population suffering from heavy persecution—Soviet Jews—by penalizing those in the Kremlin responsible for such repression. Through this movement, Save the Persecuted Christians endeavors to provide American policymakers with the popular support they need to effect real change worldwide and alleviate systemicallythe suffering being experienced by so many of those following Christ.

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