Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Michael Terheyden

1/23/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We need to start seeing ourselves as a family, a broken family to be sure, but a family nonetheless. And not just any family: We are members of the Body of Christ, and we are truly universal

Freedom of religion seems a lost hope for many in Egypt: A mother and her children have been sentenced to jail for converting to Christianity; Muslims continue to destroy Coptic property; and Coptic Christians flee their homeland.

Highlights

By Michael Terheyden

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/23/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Christian, Copts, persecution, Egypt, Islamists, Michael Terheyden


KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - As Islamists secure power in Egypt, freedom of religion seems a lost hope for many. Christians are being jailed, their property destroyed, and Coptic Christians are fleeing their homeland.

According to a report published on Egypt For Christ, last week a widowed mother, Nadia Mohamed Ali, and her seven children were sentenced to 15 years in prison by an Egyptian court in the city of Beni Suef, located about 75 miles south of Cairo. The reason for the sentence was because Nadia and her children converted to Christianity.

Nadia was born into a Christian family, but when she married her Muslim husband 23 years ago, the law required that she convert to Islam. After he died, she converted back to Christianity with her children. This was not unusual when former President Mubarak was in power.

It is believed that this harsh sentence reflects a new mood in Egypt as a result of the constitution Morsi finalized in late December. Under the new constitution, sharia law has been given much greater weight. Consequently, the Coptic community is fearful that this is a sign of a new wave of persecution. They may be right.

Based on a report published by the Assyrian International News Agency, in the Fayoum province about 80 miles south west of Cairo, Islamists destroyed the social services building belonging to the Coptic Church. The Church had all the required permits, as well as agreements with the village mayor and elders.

But Muslims accused the Copts of building a church, and mosques throughout the area called for their members to destroy it. Hundreds of Muslims carrying hammers and pipes answered the call. They destroyed the social services building to shouts of "god is great." The authorities did not arrive until after the building was destroyed, and no one has been arrested. Now, local Copts are fearful to go out of their homes. 

President Mohammed Morsi promised to respect Christians' rights, and referred to Egypt as "one homeland for all." But that has not been the reality for the Coptic Christian community living in Egypt.

Father Mena Adel says that the mood has changed in Egypt since the Muslim Brotherhood won so many seats in the parliamentary and presidential elections, and many Copts are afraid. Father Mena serves at Saints Church in Alexandria, which was bombed in 2010 as people were filing out of church after the New Year's Eve Mass. Twenty-three people died that night and about 80 people were wounded.

Tens of thousands of Copts have fled Egypt as Islamists began to flex their muscles after former president Mubarak was forced to step down in February of 2011. Many have gone to countries like Canada and Australia. Based on some estimates, approximately 40,000 have come to the United States. It would be a tragic affair if this turned into a full fledged exodus.
 
Sami, a Coptic Christian who drives a cab in Cairo, said, "We've been here forever. We're true Egyptians. We belong here." Sami is right, and history bears him out. By the time Muslims invaded Egypt in the seventh century, most Egyptians were Christians. Tradition has it that the apostle Saint Mark formed a church in Alexandria, Egypt shortly after the ascension of Jesus. It is said that Christianity spread from Alexandria throughout Egypt within half a century. After the Muslim invasion, all native Egyptians were called Copts.

Based on their Egyptian heritage, the modern-day Christian Copts are a living link to a past that stretches back to approximately 3100 B.C. and the pharaohs. They are also one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, a community which has always existed at the geographic center of our faith. Today, they make up about 10 percent of the population in modern Egypt, and they are the largest religious minority in the Middle East. Thus, the presence of the Coptic Christian community in Egypt is important for all of us.

For this reason and humanitarian reasons, many people have called upon the secular nations of the West to help the Copts, but this help has not materialized. Even the United States, with its close involvement and billion dollar payments to Egypt, has not provided help. But this is not surprising.

You may recall that European leaders refused to recognize their Christian heritage in the failed constitution intended to establish the European Union and in the Treaty of Lisbon which was ratified in 2009 in lieu of a constitution. In the United States, open persecution against Christians has begun. Under President Obama's leadership, his party has attempted to remove mention of God from its official platform; efforts have been made to narrowly define the meaning of religious freedom as mere worship; and the secular state has been firmly pitted against the Catholic Church.

In addition, President Obama and his administration have not only shown support for the Muslim Brotherhood, it appears they also undermined relations between Egypt's Islamists and the Copts when they falsely blamed the attacks on our embassies in Egypt and Libya on a video about the prophet Muhammad made by a Copt living in the United States.

As Christians are distanced in Western countries, persecuted and murdered in Muslim countries, we Christians are being forced to move beyond our narrow identities of East or West, Catholic or Protestant, American or Egyptian. We need to start seeing ourselves as a family, a broken family to be sure, but a family nonetheless. And not just any family: We are members of the Body of Christ, and we are truly universal.

We can see evidence of our universality if we look at a list of Catholic saints. They are from all over the world. We can even see this when we look at the most elite list of saints, the Doctor's of the Church. There are only 33 at present. Some of them are from the Middle East and North Africa, and lived there long before Muslims conquered these lands.

Hearing about a Christian widow and her seven children being put in jail, Church property being destroyed by Muslim mobs, and our Coptic brethren fleeing their homeland out of fear of greater persecution, should inspire the desire for unity in all Christians. If we do not take care of each other, who will?

 
-----

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 June 2015
Universal:
That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Middle East

HISTORIC - Vatican signs treaty with 'State of Palestine' in hopes of promoting peace Watch

Image of Vatican Foreign Minister Paul Gallagher along with Palestinian counterpart, Riad al-Malki, signed a peace treaty recognizing the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Vatican Foreign Minister Paul Gallagher along with Palestinian counterpart, Riad al-Malki, signed a peace treaty recognizing the "State of Palestine." Signed in a ceremony in the Vatican, the goal is that the recognition will promote peace with Israel - as well ... continue reading


Women, children among the 120 civilians killed in Islamic State takeover of Kobane Watch

Image of The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in London said many of the dead were in their homes killed by rocket attacks. Others were struck down by sharp shooters as they tried to run away.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Re-entering the Syrian city of Kobane, long held up as a symbol of Kurdish resistance, Islamic State indiscriminately shot and killed dozens of women and children in a 24-hour period. The death toll hovers around 120, but that number may rise. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Is there an AIDs epidemic in Syria? Islamic State fighter donated infected blood which has spread to several other fighters Watch

Image of An Indonesian man, infected with AIDs, donated blood to the Islamic State, and was executed for it.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An Indonesian Islamic State fighter who was infected with AIDs has been executed by the Islamic State after he was accused of knowingly passing on the disease through blood donations. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The currently unknown Indonesian man ... continue reading


Two men brutally flogged by Islamic State for breaking Ramadan rules Watch

Image of The two men are shown kneeling in front of a group of ISIS commanders. One of the commanders is seen carrying a large whip.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Two men accused of breaking the fast during Ramadan are shown being brutally flogged by Islamic State soldiers in a new series of shocking photographs. LOS ANGELES, Ca (Catholic Online) - As released by the Islamic State Information Office of the State of the ... continue reading


Positive 'happy' Syrian social media campaign #SummerInSyria gathers shocking, heartbreaking images of dead children instead Watch

Image of Syria has been hit hard with a civil war over the last four years.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Summer in Syria online campaign, using the hashtag #SummerInSyria was meant to gather positive images of experiences in the country, despite four years of gruesome civil war. However, instead of gathering positive feedback from social media users, the #SummerInSyria ... continue reading


Kurdish militia sits north of Islamic State capital, awaiting Syrian offensive Watch

Image of So far the only group that has proved capable at defeating the Islamic State has been the Kurdish militias of Iraq and Syria.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While Kurdish militia units have had some recent success in their fight for survival against the Islamic State in northern Syria, a leader with the militia says they have no intention of attacking the Islamic State's capital of Raqqa, and such an offensive should ... continue reading


'Women are whipped, sold and stoned' Former female ISIS recruiter warns girls to stay away from ISIS Watch

Image of Many young girls [not pictured] run away from home to join ISIS.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Former female jihadi recruiter, responsible for gathering hundreds of susceptible European girls and delivering them to ISIS, now warns young women around the world of the horrifying reality they would be entering. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The 23-year-old ... continue reading


ISIS begins minting their own gold coins Watch

Image of The designs found on the coins include a symbol of seven wheat stalks, which is a reference to the Quran and a world map.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Terrorist group Islamic State or ISIS has reportedly began minting its own Islamic Dinar gold coins. The coins bear the inscriptions of the Islamist militant group. One gold dinar is valued at $139 in U.S. dollars. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Violence against migrants: World refugee population reaches 60 million Watch

Image of The Jesuits noted an outbreak of xenophobic violence in South Africa, where migrants from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Burundi. Migrants were attacked and shops were looted, displacing 2,500 people.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The number of people who are living in other countries or are internally displaced in their own countries has surged to an unprecedented 60 million - equal to the population of the United Kingdom. According to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for ... continue reading


Iran parliament chants 'death to America' while voting on bill to kill nuclear talks Watch

Image of Iranian legislatures have signed a bill that may force the nuclear talks between Iran and six other nations to be given up.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Another major setback has risen, and this time there may not be anything President Obama can do to create successful nuclear talks between the United States, Iran and five other nations. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This major roadblock comes from Iran's ... continue reading


All Middle East News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 12:1-11
1 It was about this time that King Herod started ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
2 I will praise Yahweh from my heart; let the humble ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 16:13-19
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi ... Read More

Reading 2, Second Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18
6 As for me, my life is already being poured away as ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for June 29th, 2015 Image

St. Peter, First Pope
June 29: Simon Peter or Cephas, the first pope, Prince of the Apostles, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter