Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Michael Terheyden

8/27/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (

Christians in the Middle East need our help as well as our prayers

President Mursi said he was going to be the president of all Egyptians, including the Copts. As we watch events unfold in Egypt, we have to ask ourselves, was that just a big lie, a ruse to gain power and Islamize Egypt? Does President Mursi mean to govern the Copts as a free and equal people or as the dhimmi class? Islamists seem emboldened in Egypt.

A Coptic Christian woman prays

A Coptic Christian woman prays


By Michael Terheyden

Catholic Online (

8/27/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Christian, Copt, Persecution, Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood, Michael Terheyden

KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - There is growing fear among the Coptic Christian community as open violence escalates against them in Egypt. According to reports, this violence is in response to a letter calling on Muslims to kill Copts. Again, the world watches to see if Egypt's new president, Mohammed Mursi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, intends to follow up on his promise to be the president of all Egyptians.

On August 14, 2012, a publication called El Fegr posted a copy of a letter inciting violence against Christians. The title of the letter is "An Urgent and Important Notice." The letter refers to Christians as enemies of Allah's religion and slaves of the cross. It calls for Allah to curse them and for all Muslims to physically attack or kill Christians throughout Egypt until they either convert to Islam or submit to their status as dhimmi in accordance with verse 9:29 of the Koran.

Verse 9:29 of the Koran reads, "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, [even if they are] of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."

Based on Islamic law, non-Muslims fall into one of two categories. The first category is made up of pagans. The second category is made up of "people of the book," meaning people whose religion is based on sacred texts. This includes Jews and Christians. Muslims refer to people who fall into this category as dhimmis.

The dhimmis were allowed to live in Muslim society and to practice their religion, but in return, they were required to pay a special poll tax known as the jizya. Payment of this poll tax was understood to be a mark of their submission to the Muslim authority. But it was more than that; it was a mark of total subjugation and humiliation, for the dhimmi class was more like a slave class in Muslim society.

The Copts, who, today, constitute about 10 percent of the Egyptian population and the largest religious minority in the Middle-East region, have suffered this humiliation many times since Egypt was conquered by invading Muslim armies in the seventh century. From the onset, the Copts were forced to convert to Islam or pay the jizya or die. Many Copts were martyred as a result. Those that paid the tax were forced into the dhimmi class.

Some Copts fear a return to the days of the dhimmi class and the jizya tax, as Islamist groups seem emboldened since the Muslim Brotherhood's rise to power and their man, Mohammed Mursi, became president. The Islamists responsible for authoring the letter mentioned above are an example. Such things are usually done in secrecy and utilize cryptic language. However, in this instance, they acted as if they had nothing to fear from the authorities.

They made no effort to hide their intentions or conceal their identities. In the letter, they called for violence against their fellow citizens; they promised to reward Muslims who kill any Christian Copt in Egypt; they invited Muslims to a rally meant to incite violence and gave the exact location, date and time; and they distributed the letter, with this incriminating information in it, in public for all to see.

Furthermore, it seems that the letter and the rally have had the desired effect. In an article titled "The serial killing of Copts has begun in Asyut," Menna Magdi reports that violence against the Copts ensued just hours after Islamist groups distributed copies of the letter.

The article tells us about the random killing of a Christian shoe-store owner. The name of the store owner is Refaat Eskander. He did not have any known quarrel with anyone. According to the story, unidentified men stormed into the shoe store early in the morning. He was alone in the store at the time. And they simply murdered him. A witness saw one of the murderers fleeing the scene and claimed that he was dressed like a Salafi.

In another report, F. Talaat of Al Akhbar News, writes that in Al Gallaweya Village, Sohag, Upper Egypt, "Christians are being beaten, their stores destroyed, and their properties plundered. The attackers are declaring that 'any Christian who dares to leave his house will be killed'; and the Copts are complaining that the police only arrive after the damage has been completely done."

Nageh Hozar is one of the victims of this violence. He said that one of the villagers, Mo'tassem Sedky Rashwan, a known felon, came into his brother Fady's supermarket to buy cigarettes. But instead of paying for the cigarettes, he told Fady to pay him a tribute, so they argued and Sedky left without paying. Sedky later came back to the store with a gang of his relatives. Nageh and his brothers, Fady and Thomas, were there at the time, and the gang beat them with clubs.

Then the gang of attackers looted four Coptic-owned stores, set them on fire, robbed their homes, destroyed one car and three motorcycles, and caused minor damage to other Christian homes. They also threatened to kill any Christian who left their home. It was also reported that the village police did not arrive until after the gang had left the area and, except for three Christians, no one has been arrested.

In addition, Al Akhbar News also reported that hundreds of Christians gathered before the Asyut Security Directorate in the Manfalut Municipality on August 14. The protestors were demanding police protection from Muslim gangs attacking their homes and imposing tributes on them, which has become a problem for many Christians in the Middle East.

Just the week before, a gang kidnapped the son of a Coptic Christian and demanded a ransom of 3,000 EGP for his return. In another recent incident, a Muslim gang attacked the home of a Copt named Romani Murad al-Gawli, and they threatened to kill him if he did not give them money.

This is no way for human beings to live! I said something similar when hate-filled, Islamist mobs went on a rampage in Dahshur at the beginning of August and threatened the entire Coptic community. Dr. Naguib Gabriel, the head of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organization, stated that the Copts have been systematically persecuted since Mursi became president.

President Mursi said he was going to be the president of all Egyptians, including the Copts. As we watch events unfold in Egypt, we have to ask ourselves, was that just a big lie, a ruse to gain power and Islamize Egypt? Does President Mursi mean to rule the Copts as a free and equal people or as the dhimmi class?

Let us pray that President Mursi is not another dictator and that the new Egyptian government is not another totalitarian state. We already have enough of these in the world. Let us also pray that the new Egyptian government will fulfill its proper functions and serve and protect all of its citizens.

But Christians in the Middle East need our help as well as our prayers. They are in a dire situation. You might consider contacting one of the organizations that is doing something to help them. I recently mentioned one such organization in an article titled "Call to Solidarity: Christian Refugees from the Middle East Need Your Help." Contact information is included in the article. The name of the organization is Arab Refugee Christians in the USA.

We can also let our leaders know that the persecution of our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East, and throughout the world for that matter, is important to us, and we want our country to help these suffering souls and help bring peace and stability to these parts of the world. And if our leaders do not share our values, then we can vote new leaders into office who do.


Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. However, he knows that God's grace operating throughout his life is the main reason he is a Catholic. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.



Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


More Middle East

Fat ISIS member called 'The Bulldozer' earns most feared executioner in ISIS Watch

Image of


The obese extremist jihadi executioner called "The Bulldozer" has beheaded unarmed men and amputated children as a member of the terror group's "Chopping Committee." The savage built a brutal reputation as one of ISIS's most horrendous executioners. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading

Syrian Civil War: A Timeline Watch

Image of What started the Syrian conflict and how did the U.S. get involved? (Anwar Amro/AFP/Ghetty Images).


Syria gained the world's attention for its humanitarian crisis after killing at least 300,000 of its people and displacing more than 10 million due to its bloody civil war. Refugees are tossed and turned in and outside their war-torn country and other nations join in ... continue reading

Syrian Army initiates major offensive with Russian help Watch

Image of


Backed by Lebanon's Hezbollah and Russian air strikes, the Syrian army has recently announced a "vast offensive" against rebels, as NATO warns about Moscow's rising military activity in the country.  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - With the launch of the ... continue reading

Saudi teen to be beheaded for teaching first aid to demonstrators in times of protests Watch

Image of


A second teenager will be beheaded in Saudi Arabia for participating in protests. The teen's sentence was reported only a few days following teenager's conviction sparked international outcry.  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Dawoud al-Marhoon was only ... continue reading

China to join Russian forces in the battle against ISIS Watch

Image of China joins forces with Russia to eradicate ISIS threats (AFP).


China is allegedly preparing to unleash its military forces in Syria and join forces with Vladimir Putin's army to destroy ISIS. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Russia has carried out a series of destructive and deadly airstrikes against the terrorist nation IS ... continue reading

Violence increases in Jerusalem's Old City as tensions between Palestinians and Israelis rise Watch

Image of Palestinian/Israeli tensions continue to rise (AP).


An 18-year-old Palestinian woman was allegedly shot by an Israeli man on Wednesday, after she stabbed him during a brawl in Jerusalem's Old City. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online)  - Both parties were taken to the hospital. While the man did not receive serious ... continue reading

U.S./Iran negotiation ban effective immediately Watch

Image of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.


On Wednesday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei prohibited further negotiations between Iran and the United States, further isolating Iran following July's nuclear deal. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Khamenei, who is the highest authority in the ... continue reading

Disturbing graphic video encourages Arabs to kill Jews in Jerusalem Watch

Image of Video promotes Jewish stereotypes and encourages Arabs to kill Jews in Jerusalem (YouTube).


A disturbing video depicting the stabbing of Jewish men was uploaded to YouTube on Hamas' official Channel. YouTube removed the video, calling it a violation of the prohibition against promoting hate speeches. However, the video was reuploaded to a pro-Israel blog. LOS ... continue reading

Russian jets shadow U.S. drones in Syria Watch

Image of U.S. predator drones were


American officials revealed that Russian fighter jets intercepted and shadowed U.S. predator drones on three separate occasions following the initiation of Russian airstrikes last week. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Intelligence reports from U.S. officials ... continue reading

Syrian woman gang raped and later stabbed to death in honor killing for being 'unclean' Watch

Image of Rockstan M. was killed by her own father and two brothers, allegedly on orders given by her mother (Twitter).


Rokstan M. managed to escape in Syria after being gang-raped by three men. She fled to Germany but was later murdered by her own father and two brothers, allegedly by her own mother's orders because she was seen as "unclean" after the sexual assault. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading

All Middle East News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Romans 1:16-25
16 For I see no reason to be ashamed of the gospel; ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 19:2-3, 4-5
2 day discourses of it to day, night to night hands ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 11:37-41
37 He had just finished speaking when a Pharisee ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 13th, 2015 Image

St. Edward the Confessor
October 13: Edward the Confessor was the son of King Ethelred III and his ... Read More