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Christians get life sentence, Muslims ac...

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Christians get life sentence, Muslims acquitted in same case in Egypt

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Christians get life sentence, Muslims acquitted in same case in Egypt

Country/Region: Egypt, Middle East and North Africa

Twelve Christians have been sentenced to life imprisonment in Egypt, while eight Muslims jointly charged in the case were acquitted, in what has been slammed as a “serious miscarriage of justice”.

A military court tried the defendants on 21 May in connection with an outbreak of sectarian violence in Abu Qurqas El Balad, Minya, in April 2011 in which four people were killed.

Christian activist Georges Wahib, who attended the hearing, said that as the judge pronounced the verdict:

There was complete silence, as it came as a shock to everyone, then cries of grief and wailing could be heard from the Christian families with shouts of “we are innocent”, while the Muslim side broke out into jubilation and shouts of “Allahu Akbar” (“god is great”).

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Violence broke out on 18 April 2011 after a Muslim bus driver became angry over a speed bump outside the home of a wealthy Christian lawyer, Alaa Reda Roushdi. Two Muslims were killed in the subsequent fighting.

Following the funerals of the two deceased, a mob of Muslims looted and burnt down scores of homes and businesses belonging to Christians. An elderly Christian woman died after being thrown from a second floor balcony, and a Christian man who was stabbed during the violence later died in hospital. Ten Christians were injured and hospitalised.

The twelve Christian men sentenced to life imprisonment were convicted of sowing public strife, the possession of illegal weapons and killing two Muslims. Among the twelve was Mr Roushdi, who was not even at home when the deaths occurred.

The eight Muslim defendants who were acquitted had been charged with possession of illegal weapons and burning down the homes and businesses. Nobody was charged with the murder of the Christians.  

The case has been slammed by human rights activists as a “serious miscarriage of justice”. Because it was conducted in a military court, a retrial can be granted only by the military council.

Hundreds of Christians staged a protest in front of the Cairo High Court on 22 May, while nearly 2,000 Christians and Muslims joined forces in a demonstration in front of the high court in Alexandria.

The case has highlighted the lack of equality under the law for Egyptian Christians, and it is feared that they will only suffer greater acts of injustice if an Islamist president is elected.

Rare case of justice

However, in a rare case of justice for the Christian community, a Muslim policeman who shot six Christians on a train in Egypt, killing one of them, was sentenced to death by a court in Minya on 14 May.

Amer Ashour Abdel-Zaher (29) opened fire on the Christians, who were sitting together, after chanting “Allahu Akbar” (“god is great”) on the Cairo-bound train in January 2011.

Fathy Ghattas (71) was killed instantly. His wife, Emily Hanna, was seriously injured and required an operation to remove her left kidney and spleen. The four other victims also sustained severe wounds: three had to be airlifted to hospital in Cairo; the other needed an operation on her liver.

According to eyewitnesses, the off-duty police officer had walked up and down the train looking for passengers with a cross tattooed on their wrist, which most Egyptian Christians have, or any other sign revealing their Christian identity.  

Christian activists expressed their surprise at the verdict. Mark Ebeid said, “Usually killers of Christians literally get away with murder.”

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  • Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we give You thanks on this Easter Day for the living hope that You have given us and all Your people through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). We pray that the prospect of an enduring inheritance and future salvation will encourage our persecuted brothers and sisters to persevere in their faith, whatever may happen to them. We pray that we too may be sustained by this hope in the sufferings that we experience for the sake of Christ. We ask that the joy and resurrection power of the Lord will give strength and peace to persecuted believers today and every day. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 14 hours ago

  • Give thanks for the Christ-like responses of Christian leaders in CAR to the crisis that threatens them and their churches. They have distanced themselves from the anti-balaka militias, saying that these should not be labelled as Christian and that they hold no mandate from the churches. The leaders have also condemned the violence in the country, whatever its origin, and have called on Christians to pursue forgiveness, reconciliation and healing. Churches are hiding, defending and caring for thousands of Muslims endangered by the anti-balaka, and one of CAR’s most senior church leaders has invited the president of the country’s Islamic community to move into his church compound. Pray that this powerful witness to the grace and love of Christ will help to bring peace to the shattered country. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Apr 2014 00:00

  • On this Good Friday, give thanks to God for the death of Christ and for His gift of eternal life. Praise Him too for the example of those Christians who have persevered in their faith at the risk of their lives and who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of Christ and the Gospel. Pray that their martyrdom will inspire their suffering brothers and sisters in Christ to endure whatever hardships befall them and will convince their persecutors of the truth and power of the Gospel. Pray too that their bereaved families and churches will not grieve without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Cry out to the Lord for Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) who have been driven from their homes by the violence that has engulfed their country. Attacks by Islamist Séléka militants and retaliation from “anti-balaka” militias has generated a huge humanitarian crisis in which around two million people, many of them Christians, are in need of emergency assistance. Give thanks for the work of Barnabas partners who have been providing food rations to hundreds of displaced believers in the capital, Bangui, and distributing food, medicines, clothing and seeds to thousands in various regions. Pray that the aid will reach those who need it most, and that the Lord will comfort the relatives and friends of the thousands who have been killed in the fighting. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Apr 2014 00:00

  • “Jesus Christ performed tremendous miracles in all our lives through this Shalom Camp.” A pastor spoke of how God had worked through a Barnabas-sponsored weekend Bible camp for persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka. The camp was attended by believers from five different churches that had been the target of threats or attacks by Buddhist or Hindu extremists. The participants heard teaching on the Biblical basis for persecution and took part in group discussions; they came away refreshed and encouraged, and for many the camp was a time of great spiritual renewal. Give thanks to the Lord for the peace He has brought to these persecuted believers, and ask that the weekend will continue to bear much fruit in their lives. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Apr 2014 00:00

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