Bishoy Armiya, Egypt’s most famous Christian convert from Islam, has been arrested by national security forces.
Armiya, formerly known as Mohammed Hegazy, had fought publicly to change his religion on his identification card. He and his family had been running for their lives after Muslim leaders pronounced a death sentence against him.
In a 2010 interview, he told CBN News he had been jailed and tortured by Egyptian state security agents who wanted him to return to Islam.
Now Mideast Christian News reports he’s been arrested again, this time for proselytizing.
“The defendant photographed military and police institutions, a Copt who was attacked by Muslim Brotherhood members, and Nazlet Ebeid and Badraman villages, where the defendant met with several Christian citizens. Security services tracked him down and were able to arrest him,” a security source told MCN.
Pro-Islamist President Mohammed Morsi supporters took to the streets over the weekend. Thousands took part in the protests in Alexandria, Suez and other cities calling for Morsi to be reinstated and urging military leader General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi to step aside.
According to an I.N. Network worker we’ll call David, these protests put his family at risk. David says protesters surrounded his home for 50 days a few months ago.
“They consider the area as a holy place, and they try to come back to the area again and again,” he says. “So the police and the army surround the area. Every Friday there is a big group of the Muslim Brotherhood. They try to come back, and they fight with the army and police.”
While David and his family have had to leave their home for a time, they are safe.
Since the Muslim Brotherhood took power, Christians have been the targets of violence. Once the government was sacked, Christians had hoped that would change. But, David says, it hasn’t.
“They are still creating troubles and problems,” he says. “The last two months, they’ve gotten very crazy. They want to destroy the country. They attack many churches. More than 80 churches have been burned. Many Christians have been killed.”
David says that’s why the I.N. Network has established an emergency fund to help survivors of the violence.
“Winter is approaching in Egypt,” he says. “And many families—especially in the south—don’t have enough clothes. They need blankets, so we’re doing a project to distribute blankets.”
While the violence has been difficult, David says there is good news.
“Churches are united together. And the spirit of prayer is happening in all the churches. People are praying all the time,” he says.
The response to the violence against burned churches has also been remarkable. Christians posted signs on their burned-out churches that read, “You burned our church, but we love you.”
David says ,”It’s a great message of forgiveness. This makes many Muslims discover the reality of Christianity, and many of them come to know Jesus.”
While Muslims are turning, that’s creating another problem.
“Until now, they find difficulty for security reasons to join local churches, so they meet underground in a secret way,” David says. “They worship the Lord together, and they’re growing.”
As Muslims come to Christ, they’re uniquely qualified to share the gospel. “The easiest way to reach Muslims is through converted Muslims,” David says.
While David isn’t praying for more persecution, he’s excited about the Holy Spirit working.
“It’s always like this,” he says. “When there is pressure over the churches, the Holy Spirit is working, and many people are coming to know Jesus as Savior.”
More unrest and violence in Egypt this weekend suggests an Islamist-led insurgency against Christians and the government may now be underway.
An Islamist gunman riding on a motorcycle fired 15 shots at members of a wedding party as they left a Cairo church Sunday.
“Everyone knows that every Sunday there is a wedding in the church,” a witness said. “There was a lot of traffic outside the church when a motorbike and a car approached the crowd outside the church. The car stopped and the gunman on the motorcycle started shooting and ran away.”
The attack killed four people, including 8-year-old Nermien, who was excited about wearing her new dress and boots to the wedding.
“What is happening is targeting all of Egypt and not only the Christians. This is enough, people are getting sick and tired of this,” Father Dawoud, a priest from Virgin Mary Coptic Church, said.
Meanwhile, on Saturday northwest of Cairo in Islamiya, members of a jihadist group that calls itself “Supporters of the Mahdi” claimed responsibility for a car bombing outside a military intelligence.
The group warned Egyptians to avoid military and police buildings, saying they are “legitimate targets for the Mujahadeen.”
The Islamiya bombing and other similar attacks in the Sinai indicate Egypt may be facing the start of an insurgency.
The supporters of the Mahdi accuse Egyptian intelligence services and the military of waging war on Egyptians, which they claim only benefits the enemies of the nation—Jews and Christians.
Militant Islamists blame Christians and the military for the uprising last July that ended Mohammed Morsi‘s presidency and led to a crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood.
And it doesn’t look like attacks against Christians, the military, and police will end anytime soon. At Cairo’s Al Azar University Sunday, pro-Morsi student rioters opposed police.
It was another weekend of political unrest, suggesting Egyptians are likely to face more violence and instability in the days ahead.
While the temporary partial government shutdown has riveted our nation, Christians are being martyred all over the world.
The limited space of this column does not permit me to enumerate the long list of martyred Christians and the locations where Christians continue to be killed in cold blood. But needless to say, the violence stretches from Nigeria to Egypt to Iraq to Syria to Pakistan and beyond.
The most tragic act of treachery recently committed by Islamists against innocent Christians took place in a church in Peshawar, Pakistan, just a few weeks ago. There, 81 innocent worshippers were slaughtered and many more were wounded, some permanently.
The Western press, if they reported that tragedy at all, reported it as just another day at the office, as if it was unworthy of much news attention. Nothing to see here; move right along.
But those of us who read Arabic and Islamic publications know that Tehrik-e-Taliban Jundullah claimed responsibility for the bombing, stating that the attack of the 130-year-old All Saints Church in Peshawar was revenge for U.S. drone strikes.
Islamists view Christian churches, and Christians in general, as outposts of Western influence. Little do they know, however, that Western governments are just as anti-Christian as they are—although they are more polite in their opposition.
Western governments are not only silent when it comes to Christian martyrdom—which is now in the tens of thousands—but they are complicit as well. While enthusiastically supporting Libyan rebels against Moammar Gadhafi, and now Syrian rebels against Assad, Western governments have actually helped al-Qaida or al-Qaida affiliate members. Western governments have, wittingly or unwittingly, strengthened the hands of those who are now slaughtering whole Christian villages in Syria.
With the exception of Angela Merkel of Germany, who factually told a gathering of Lutheran leaders that Christianity “is the most persecuted religion in the world,” sadly nothing is being done for those beleaguered Christians.
Or take the case of the Copts in Egypt. They have been harassed, discriminated against and persecuted for 1,400 years. More recently, they have suffered violence from the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood. That violence accelerated at a rapid pace because the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammed Morsi felt emboldened—not only by the praise heaped on him by his fellow Islamists, but also by the praise of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
In fairness to President Obama, the harmful effect of our foreign policy on Christians started prior to his administration. Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, there were 1.4 million Christians in that country. Now it would be a stretch to find 300,000.
Today, because of Western policies, Christians are being killed in greater numbers than during the first-century Roman Empire.
I do not expect Islamist groups to care about the anti-Christian posturing of Western governments. But for heaven’s sake and the sake of their own eternal judgment, may foreign policymakers of the U.S. and Western governments understand their culpability in this matter and do something about it.
U.S. officials said on Wednesday that a huge cache of American weapons stolen in Libya over the summer was far larger than once thought. The weapons are now with al-Qaida and other terrorist groups linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, according to news reports
“The theft of these weapons and the open borders are feeding al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood and threatens Libya’s neighbors as well,” one official told Fox News. “It’s already bad — and now it’s really bad.”
The highly sensitive military equipment was stolen in overnight raids on a military training post used by U.S. Special Forces outside Tripoli. The 12-member team was pulled from Libya in August because of the thefts.
“It’s not just equipment … it’s the capability,” the official told Fox on Wednesday. “You are giving these very dangerous groups the capability that only a few nations are capable of.
“Already, assassinations are picking up in Tripoli and there are major worries that the militias are using this stolen equipment to their advantage,” the official added. “All these militias are tied into terrorist organizations.”
The missing equipment now includes dozens of highly armored vehicles, called GMVs, State Department and military sources, who asked not to be named, told Fox. Outfitted with GPS technology, the vehicles have weapon mounts and can accommodate smoke-grenade launchers, they said.
The vehicles that were provided to the Libyan rebels are now gone, the officials told Fox.
In addition, about 100 Glock pistols and more than 100 M4 rifles are missing, Fox reports, but the officials said they were most troubled at the discovery that nearly every set of night-vision goggles the U.S. forces had at the training post were also taken.
“The court bans the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood organization and its nongovernmental organization and all the activities that it participates in and any organization derived from it,” said the presiding judge Mohammed al-Sayed.
The court ordered the government to seize the Brotherhood’s funds and administer its frozen assets.
The army-backed government is waging the toughest crackdown in decades on the Islamist group, which says it has a million members. Security forces killed hundreds of its supporters and rounded up thousands more since Morsi was deposed by the army on July 3 after mass protests against his rule.
The Brotherhood won parliamentary and presidential elections after veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011.
Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi‘s toppling of Morsi triggered a political crisis in the Arab world‘s most populous state, with the Brotherhood insisting that a military coup robbed them of power.
The court decision is likely to drive more Brotherhood members underground and it may encourage young Islamists to take up arms against the state.
CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court on Monday ordered the Muslim Brotherhood to be banned and its assets confiscated in a dramatic escalation of a crackdown by the military-backed government against supporters of the ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.
Every Egyptian is well aware of US president Barack Obama’s fervent support for the Muslim Brotherhood, even if American media won’t report on it.
The ruling opens the door for a wider crackdown on the vast network of the Brotherhood, which includes social organizations that have been key for building the group’s grassroots support and helping its election victories. The verdict banned the group itself – including the official association it registered under earlier this year – as well as “any institution branching out of it or … receiving financial support from it,” according to the court ruling, made public on Egypt’s state official news agency MENA.
The judge at the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters also ordered the “confiscation of all the group’s money, assets, and buildings” and said that an independent committee should be formed by the Cabinet to manage the money until final court orders are issued. The verdict can be appealed.
The Brotherhood was outlawed for most of its 85 years in existence. But after the 2011 ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, it was allowed to work openly, formed a political party and rose to power in a string of post-Mubarak elections. In March, it registered as a recognized non-governmental organization.
“This is totalitarian decision,” leading group member Ibrahim Moneir said in an interview with Qatari-based Al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr TV. “You are losers and it (the Brotherhood) will remain with God’s help, not by the orders by the judiciary of el-Sissi,” he added, referring to military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led the overthrow of Morsi on July 3.
The court did not immediately make public the grounds for its ruling. The verdict came in a suit raised by lawyers from the leftist party Tagammu party, accusing the Brotherhood of being a “terrorist” and “exploiting religion in political slogans.” Several other courts are looking into similar suits. source – AP.
Nearly a month after a state of emergency was declared, the interim government has extended the order by two months.
This action gives security forces greater powers of arrest. In mid-August, authorities and protestors clashed violently over the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi. That led to a backlash of violence that claimed nearly 1,000 lives in the days that followed, with Christians targeted as the scapegoat.
Open Doors CEO David Curry says, “Some of these extremist groups think that Christianity itself—the very existence of it—is problematic, so they’re trying to snuff it out. So there’s a confluence of events, which is making it very, very dangerous to be a follower of Jesus in Egypt.”
Ever since the state of emergency was declared, a nighttime curfew has also been in effect in much of the country. With that in place, how did Islamists manage the takeover of a Christian village in the south? Police can’t be everywhere and can’t protect everyone, Curry says. The lack of protection is especially dangerous for the residents in Dalga, which was taken over by hardliners a couple of weeks ago.
“There are about 20,000 believers that have an enclave there [in Dalga], and they gather together and they go to church. They want to worship in freedom,” Curry says.
What’s more, since the siege began, word has leaked that the Muslim Brotherhood has demanded the Christians recant, pay a “jizya” or suffer the consequences.
“They’re literally being taxed until and unless they convert to Islam,” Curry says. “So there’s a tax levied. If you don’t pay the tax, you’re going to be attacked, you’re going to be punished, and your property is going to be attacked.”
The “jizya” is a kind of tax that Islamic law requires religious minorities to pay Muslims. The amounts demanded are ruinous.
“We’re talking about real money in terms of the Egyptian lifestyle,” Curry says. “It may be that a person is made to choose between holding on to their faith and being martyred for their faith.”
Already, Muslims in southern Egypt have killed two Christian men for failing to pay the tax. Voice of the Martyrs reports that a Muslim man demanded a Christian in a village in Assiut pay him nearly $1,500. Muslims have also forced at least 140 Coptic Christians to pay 200 Egyptian pounds daily (US $30). When you consider that roughly 40 percent of Egyptians live on less than $2 a day, there aren’t many who can remain in their hometowns safely. Forty Coptic Christian families have left as a result of the tax.
Still, Curry says there have been reports of people coming to Christ.
“The Christian faith is vibrant, and it’s going to find its fruition because people are seeking answers, and they’re not looking for political answers,” he says.
Additionally, followers of Christ have something that piques curiosity in times like these.
“When people are introduced to Jesus, there’s peace,” Curry says. “There’s life there. That’s what we want for them. Certainly, there are still great things happening even in the midst of this difficulty and in this persecution.”
Open Doors’ partners are careful when they respond to needs in the area.
“Open Doors is asking everybody to pray for Egypt, to support the believers there. We’re on the ground trying to help these churches. We’re rebuilding churches. We’re trying to help pastors,” Curry says.
As the administration contemplates launching an itty-bitty, teeny-weeny cruise missile strike, a “change the momentum of the ground” blitz or grabbing the Russian lifeline, it’s worth reading this little window into its analysis. Here’s a key sentence from an NBC News report on the extremist elements amongst the rebels:
“Most of the groups battling against Assad are composed of Islamist fighters, but only a small minority could accurately be characterized as extremist,” a U.S. official told NBC News, speaking on background.
“Even worse, the Obama Left and the GOP’s McCain wing are applying Washington’s lunatic definition of ‘moderate.’ By this thinking, the Islamic ummah is divided into two camps: an al-Qaeda fringe in one, and in the other the teeming millions of ‘moderate,’ tolerant, peace-loving ‘democracy’ activists. In this fantasy, the Muslim Brotherhood—whose name the Beltway strains to avoid uttering in discussions of Syria—is moderate; and never you mind the bloody catastrophe the Brothers have wrought in nearby Egypt over the last few weeks and months.
“In truth, the Brotherhood is an implacably Islamic-supremacist organization that is ‘moderate’ only by comparison with al-Qaeda, and, even then, only if we are talking about al-Qaeda’s methodology of full-time savagery—the Brothers are part-timers who, unlike al-Qaeda, think violent jihad is just one item on the sharia-installation menu. As far as ideology goes—i.e., the imperative that sharia be installed—the two are on exactly the same page. If anything, the Brotherhood’s influence over the ‘oppositionists’ is even greater than al-Qaeda’s. The Brothers are the antithesis of moderate. They are anti-American (though they’ll happily take our help before using it against us), anti-democratic (though they’ll happily hold popular elections in Muslim-majority countries), and rabidly anti-Semitic.”
Exactly right. And now the administration is admitting it is counting Islamist fighters amongst the allegedly friendly majority of so-called moderate rebels. This fact should be broadcast far and wide. A “moderate” majority fighting force exists only in the administration’s fondest ideological dreams.