Egypt/English

Rick Warren Misinformed about Egypt

Today well-known pastor Rick Warren wrote on Facebook and Google+:

PRAY for our Christian brothers and sisters being attacked in Maspero, Egypt! In October -over 4 days – 38 churches, 58 Christian homes, and 85 Christian businesses have been destroyed.

While I appreciate that Rev. Warren calls for prayer for Egypt, he must have been misinformed about the facts. Because his message has been read, shared, and retweeted by many people, it seems me wise to post this reaction, not to discredit Warren, but simply to provide some more accurate information (without claiming that I know everything to the last detail):

  1. Maspero is not a city but a media building perhaps a mile north of Tahrir Square. Two years ago there was a terrible clash between Christian demonstrators and the army near this building in which over 20 people were killed. However, Egyptian Christians usually hold the current leader of the army, el-Sissi, in high esteem because he removed president Morsi from his position after millions of Egyptians (including many Christians) had called Morsi to leave. I’ve heard nothing about recent attacks on Christians in the Maspero area.
  2. August 14-16, 2013, many Christian churches, homes, and businesses (as well as police stations, a museum, etc.) were put on fire and destroyed. I don’t have exact numbers but the numbers of 38, 58, and 85 may come close (numbers also depend on whether you include attempts to destroy and partial destructions or full destructions only). This happened especially in the province of Minya, about 160 miles south of Cairo (and thus also some 160 miles south of Maspero). These destructions were the work of some groups of muslims, while other muslims have helped to protect churches against such groups, to extinguish fires, etc. In some places violence has continued after the middle of August, e.g. in Delga.
  3. A few days ago there was a terrible shooting incident at a Christian wedding near Cairo that left some people killed. Horrible as all this is, there are simply no reports about the destruction of 38 churches etc. during this month.

In August I posted and reposted several messages about what was going on in Egypt at that time here at willemjdewit.com: see monthly blog archive for August. At wjdw.nl I posted even more in Dutch (which you may try to read in English with Google Translate).

The lesson: let us make sure that our well-intended prayers and calls for prayer do not actually lead to the spread of misinformation, which in the end does not serve the cause of Christians in Egypt or in any other country in which they have to face difficult circumstances.

Rev Sameh Ibrahim in Gad al-Seed church Minya

PS: If you would like to know more about the church in Egypt and have a first theological degree, please, consider to come to Cairo to study for a master’s degree at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo (more information). If a master’s degree is not the right thing for you, you may still want to subscribe to the newsletter of our seminary.

Photo: Rev. Sameh Ibrahim prays in the burned Gad el-Seed church in Minya on August 18, 2013. Picture taken by Ruth Vandewalle

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