Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 097 | Wed 02 Mar 2011
EGYPT: ARMY FIRES LIVE AMMUNITION AT MONASTERY
Plus critical updates from Afghanistan and Laos
By Elizabeth Kendal
The Egyptian uprising has left Coptic Orthodox monasteries exceedingly
vulnerable, as the police who normally guard the monasteries have either
deserted their posts or been redeployed to the cities. Exploiting the
security vacuum, Arab raiders, jihadists and prison escapees have attacked
and raided several monasteries. When the monks requested protection at the
5th Century Monastery of St Bishoy in Wadi al-Natroun, some 110km north of
Cairo, they were told they would have to fend for themselves. So they
built a surrounding security wall, inside their boundary. However, Islamic
law mandates that Christians may neither build nor repair churches. (See
last week’s RLPB 096 for some examples of consequences.)
On 21 February soldiers arrived at the monastery of St Bishoy in tanks and
bulldozers. They had not come to protect the community, but to demolish
the security wall. After arguing with the monks and workers, the soldiers
opened fire with live ammunition, including rocket-propelled grenades.
Father Feltaows was shot in the leg and Father Barnabas in the abdomen.
Six monastery workers were also wounded, one critically. The wounded are
being treated in the Anglo-Egyptian Hospital in Cairo. The army also
attacked the Monastery of St Makarios of Alexandria in Wady el-Rayan,
Fayoum, some 130km south-east of Cairo. This monastery likewise had
erected a security wall after an attack by armed thugs and Arabs left six
monks wounded, one critically. Not only did the military demolish the
security wall, they ‘confiscated’ the monastery’s building materials.
The demolition at St Bishoy’s was recorded -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= edVRFUOSJAw (from www.freecopts.net/).
The monks did not flee the assault, but held their ground in the midst of
the ‘war zone’ singing and praying ‘Kyrie eleison’ (Lord have mercy).
According to eye-witness Father Hemanot Ava Bishoy: ‘As the soldiers were
demolishing the gate and the fence they were chanting, “Allahu Akbar” and
As one analyst commented, the security walls threatened nobody but merely
breached a rule of fundamentalist Islam. It is most concerning that those
excitedly and violently enforcing this repressive Sharia prohibition were
not militants nor jihadists nor agitated, incited Muslims. They were the
heroes of the ‘revolution’: soldiers of the Egyptian Army which now rules
Also on 21 February the body of Rev Dawood Boutros was found, murdered two
days earlier in Shotb, just outside Assiut City, southern Egypt.
Journalist Ahmed Zaki Osman reports for Al-Masry al-Youm: ‘According to
the slain priest’s neighbours, four people killed the Coptic cleric in his
home while “chanting Islamic slogans”.’
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY:
* that the Lord himself – Yahweh Sabaoth (Lord of Hosts, the commander
of heaven’s forces) – will protect the Christians of Egypt, their
churches, monasteries and homes during these days of insecurity. ‘But
on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people dwell
. . . so that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the
earth. Thus I will put a division between my people and your people.’
(God to Pharaoh, Exodus 8:22,23a ESV)
* for a Great Awakening in Egypt: may the Church grow in faith and be
sanctified to radiate more brightly; may the gospel message become the
hope of many, as social transformation will come not via politics but
via spiritual transformation (Isaiah 2:1-4).
SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
ARMY FIRES ON MONASTERY IN EGYPT
Criminals and jihadists have been exploiting Egypt’s present security
vacuum to attack and raid Coptic monasteries. However, on 21 February the
Egyptian army moved against two monasteries that had built surrounding
security walls inside their boundaries. At the Monastery of St Bishoy, the
army used live ammunition against the monastery’s monks and workers,
wounding several, before sending tanks and bulldozers to demolish the
wall. This was not agitated Muslims nor a band of jihadists, but the army -
the hero of the ‘revolution’, the new ruler in Egypt – enacting the
repressive Sharia prohibition against Christians building or repairing
churches. This does not bode well for the future of Christianity in the
‘new Egypt’. Please pray for Egypt and for the Church during this
insecurity and in the days ahead.
TWO CRITICAL UPDATES
* AFGHANISTAN: Said Musa, the focus of a massive international prayer and
advocacy campaign, has been released from detention in Kabul (see RLPB
096, 23 Feb 2011). His whereabouts are unknown. To appease the Muslim
masses, the government reported that Musa – who clung to his faith through
months of beatings, sexual abuse, torture and a death sentence – was
released upon his returning to Islam. Recall that Musa was one of around
25 Afghan converts arrested in the May 2010 crackdown (see RLPB 059, 09
Jun 2010). They remain detained, posing a dilemma for the government.
These converts all need asylum. Meanwhile, the United Nations High
Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) in India has denied refugee status to six
Afghan Christian converts seeking asylum in India, meaning they may soon
face deportation back to Afghanistan. Why? Probably due to the UNHCR’s
delicate relationship with India, combined with the UNHCR’s blinkered
regard for Islam (see http://www.unhcr.org/45ed1ea64.html , http:
//www.unhcr.org/4a3f95969.html , http://www.unhcr.org/4a42245e9.html ).
* LAOS: In January 2010 security forces expelled 11 families (around 48
people) from Katin village, southern Laos, simply because they would not
give up their Christian faith (see RLPB 057, 26 May 2010). The
faithfulness of the believers despite the persecution led other Katin
families to the Lord. After they converted, these families were also
expelled (RLPB 083, 24 Nov 2010). Now Compass Direct reports that the 62
exiled believers are at a ‘critical stage’. In a last attempt to starve
the Christians into abandoning their faith, authorities have commissioned
locals to destroy the Christians’ food and water supplies, and warned them
against giving any assistance to the ‘criminal’ Christians. These
believers desperately need Divine intervention.
Remember: intercessory prayer is advocacy to the highest authority. Please
We suggest that churches and fellowships using the above Summary might
also provide a copy of the listed ‘please pray specifically’ points to be
used in their worship by people who are leading in prayer.
For more information, updates and helpful links see Elizabeth Kendal’s
blog ‘Religious Liberty Monitoring’ <http://elizabethkendal.blogspot.com>.
This RLPB was written for the Australian Evangelical Alliance Religious
Liberty Commission (AEA RLC) by Elizabeth Kendal, an international
religious liberty analyst and advocate, and a member of the AEA RLC team.
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