Washington, D.C. (ICC) — “I’m afraid to get out from my home and walk in the streets of the village. The situation is so dangerous for us here,” Father Youannis Shawky, a Coptic priest, told ICC.
This sentiment is shared by many in the Christian community throughout Egypt, as Christians have increasingly come under attack for their part in the protests to remove Islamist president Mohamed Morsi from office. The retaliation against Christians from Islamists has included the looting and burning of houses, churches, schools and businesses. It has also become personal, as kidnapping and threats against individuals have been on the rise. In the city of Delga, in Upper Egypt, Islamist gangs took control, holding it captive for more than two months before security forces moved in.
A City Without Protection
Father Youannis is a priest of St. Mary and Anba Abraam Monastery in Delga, Egypt. The city of 120,000 people, including 15,000 Christians, had been under the control of hardline supporters of former President Morsi for nearly two months.
On Monday, September 16, Egyptian authorities staged an operation to retake the town. As The Guardian reports,”Two earlier attempts to retake Delga failed, but in the early hours of Monday morning police launched a third and decisive assault, and have now re-entered the town.”
The takeover by Morsi supporters occurred following his removal from office on July 3, when armed gangs in the city ran off the security forces and seized control. The situation for the Coptic Christian community became terrifying as many of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood supporters blame the Christians for their loss of political power.
Speaking with International Christian Concern from Delga on September 12, Adel Shafik, a Coptic activist said, “From August 14 till now, more than 52 Christian families lost their homes, their homes were ransacked, burned, and demolished.” He added that “more than 40 Christian families left the village fearing from the threats of the Muslim fanatics to them.”
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“Are American Christians Ignoring the Mayhem of the Middle East?” For the reflections of Focus on the Family President Jim Daly on this question, click here.