Missionary Partners in Egypt
St Andrews has been supporting local churches in Egypt for a number of years and links have been forged between church family members here in St Andrews with communities in Egypt in both Education and Medicine as well as the commonality of being members within the wider church family.
In the past we have developed those links by inviting members of the local church community in Egypt to come to England and share in some of our church life and this has included inviting them to stay in church family homes and sharing in activities such as Parish Camp.
The church in Egypt has been under some criticism since the overthrow of Mohammed Morsi where the Muslim brotherhood have accused the church in supporting his overthrow. As a result despite this regime change which is widely backed by the military there have been repercussions for the church in Egypt.
Open Doors Report
As radical Islam is fervently trying to take over the country’s culture, there is a growing sentiment to reject Christians. Ten-year-old Marina is the youngest of six children – and the only girl – in a poor Christian family, living in a small village in Upper Egypt. In these remote, predominantly Muslim communities, Christians often find themselves excluded or experiencing discrimination.
Building or even repairing a church is difficult, if not impossible, and Christians find themselves placed at the end of the queue when it comes to things like education and welfare. Even more so, if you are a Christian girl. Socially and culturally, girls and women are viewed as far inferior to men. Although Marina’s parents are illiterate, they sent their children to the public school in the nearby village. However, in such places, many Christian children face discrimination. Placed at the back of the class, they can be ignored and marginalised.
The majority of Egypt’s population is Muslim, but in recent years, radical political Islam has become more visible and the society has suffered the implications of the presence of radical Islamic groups. In December 2016, an attack by so-called Islamic State extremists on a chapel adjoining Cairo’s Coptic cathedral, St Mark, left at least 28 people dead and many more injured. But it is not only from radical groups that Christians face persecution.
Believers from a Muslim background, as in many countries, bear the brunt of persecution, often from their families, who may punish them for abandoning the Islamic faith with beatings or expulsions from the home.
The tradition of authoritarian rule is perhaps the only permanent feature of Egypt’s political system, which has known three regime changes in only three years. The current government seems to regard basic human rights and democratic pluralism as a low priority: a law from November 2013, restricting public protests, contributes to reducing freedom of expression in the public sphere. In this context, therefore, religious freedom for Christians is not fully guaranteed.
The large Coptic minority, while facing discrimination in education, health and legislation which hinders essential aspects of church life, has been tolerated in the past because of its historical presence and demographic size. In recent years, however, this has changed, causing historical Christian communities to be targeted as well.
In cooperation with local churches and other partnering ministries, Open Doors supports the church in Egypt through:
Literacy training and education projects
Youth and family ministry
Women’s empowerment training and ministry to widows.