What does persecution look like in Egypt?
In Egypt, most persecution happens at the community level. Christians regularly experience discrimination because they follow Jesus. Men can experience job loss or lack of employment opportunities, women can be harassed in the street, Christian children can be bullied at school and, in rare instances, mobs of Muslim extremists force Christians to flee their communities after an alleged blasphemy accusation. These incidents are most common in the Upper Egypt region, where Islamic hardliners are active, especially in rural communities.
President al-Sisi and his government regularly speak positively about Egypt's Christian community—which, through the Coptic church, is long and historic. He purposely includes both Muslims and Christians in Egypt's identity. However, this stance does not always extend to areas outside of major urban centers—authorities are known to ignore or downplay the concerns of Egyptian believers. Christians also have difficulty getting permission to build church buildings, though this has improved in recent years.
Christians who have converted from Islam experience the most severe persecution. They face enormous pressure from their family and community to return to Islam. And Egyptian security services are known to detain and intimidate converts to keep quiet about their conversion. The state also makes it impossible for converts to officially be recognized as Christians.
Who is most vulnerable to persecution?
Converts from Islam bear the brunt of persecution by their family, community and security services. Christians who live in Upper Egypt, particularly in rural areas, also experience persecution and discrimination.
“I am a Christian now, but I was born a Muslim. If I showed you my face, it could cost me my life. Fanatics, or even my own family, would kill me if they saw my picture online and read I rejected Islam.”Raina, an Egyptian convert from Islam
What has changed this year?
Egyptian society remains a difficult place to follow Jesus. There are positive developments—the government has pledged to ensure that church buildings are approved, and Islamic extremists in the Sinai region are mostly defeated, for instance. Christians in rural regions and urban areas with low socioeconomical development, continue to risk violence and experience discrimination. Several attacks on believers have been recorded this year.
What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Egypt?
Open Doors works through local partners in Egypt to support the church throughout the country with literacy training, education, advocacy, medical outreach, and youth, family and women’s ministries.
How can you pray for Egypt?
- Pray that Egyptian Christians who follow Jesus out of Islam would be safe.
- Ask God to help Christians who have converted from Islam find fellowship.
- Pray for Christians’ legal rights, that they would not be discriminated against.
Lord, when we hear about the situation in Egypt, we're reminded how often Your people found hope and worshiped You in that nation. We're reminded how Moses and the Israelites were able to show Your power to Pharaoh, and we remember when Jesus and his parents fled to Egypt to escape Herod. The footprint of Your people in Egypt stretches back to the beginning. We pray for Egyptian Christians who continue that faithful presence in their country, that they would be blessed and protected from harm. In Jesus' name, Amen.