EGYPT: Riots Follow Blasphemy Accusation
Egypt's Minya Governorate region erupted in violence on November 25th after rumours spread that a young, barely literate Christian man named Girgis Sameeh posted a message on Facebook that was considered insulting to Islam. In al-Barsha, Girgis' hometown, hundreds of Muslims attacked the homes of Coptic Christians, also looting and destroying local businesses. The fury of the mob spread to the church of Abou Sefin, where the congregation was celebrating the beginning of a fast for the Advent season.
Thankfully, there were only a few reported injuries. Due to the intervention of a concerned Muslim neighbour, the family of Girgis received protection from the rioters. Following the skirmish, police arrested about a hundred Muslims and Christians, detaining those from both sides to avoid accusations of bias. At last report, 20 Muslims and ten Christians face two weeks' detention for questioning.
In retaliation to the lockdowns imposed to stop further riots, some Muslim villagers resorted to burning farm buildings used for cattle and feed, as well as boycotting businesses owned by Christians.
Such violent outbursts are not uncommon in Egypt and are often based on rumours. Girgis' brother cannot believe that he would do such a thing, saying, "That's not how he was taught to behave." To learn more about the persecution of Christians in Egypt, and review previously posted reports, go to our country report.
Praise God that no fatalities resulted from these violent riots. Ask Him to minister His peace upon this troubled Egyptian community and, in the process, provide the governing authorities wisdom as they mediate between the people groups and seek ways to deal justly with the destructive acts of retaliation. May the Christians of this region walk in obedience to God's Word despite these challenges, serving as wonderful examples of His love and peace. Uphold those who are now without homes or businesses, and experiencing numerous hardships as a result, asking the Lord to bless them with needed provision and restoration. Finally, may His intervention also take place during the questioning period, ensuring that the truth will prevail and the detained believers be freed.