The bus attacks took place near a monastery in Minya. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks which left seven Coptic Christians dead and another seven injured, including children. Egypt’s interior ministry confirmed that in the terrorists’ holdout, they found ISIS propaganda.
It seems that Egypt is stepping up its punishment of extremists targeting religious minorities. Even last month, 17 terrorists were sentenced to death for three church bombings in 2016 and 2017 — also claimed by ISIS. Additionally, 19 attackers were sentenced to life imprisonment and 10 will serve 10 to 15 years in prison.
Miles Windsor with Middle East Concern reflects, “Christians have — for a long time and for good reason — complained that perpetrators of attacks on Christians are either not punished at all or are punished lightly.”
According to Windsor, there are been cases of sectarian violence in Upper Egypt where victims are forced into reconciliation sessions and give up their right to seek legal action. Such responses have denied justice to victims and allowed perpetrators to go free with maybe a proverbial slap on the wrist.
“At the same time with regards to these particular cases that we’re talking about now, many have responded with messages of forgiveness towards perpetrators, especially some of the families of people who were killed during those attacks,” Windsor says.
“Many have issued public statements that Christians don’t seek vengeance, but only justice.”
As these attacks on Coptic Christians continue, they have an understandable effect on the community.
“It would probably be wrong for me to generalize completely, but I’m sure that some of these attacks over the last years have certainly caused frustration and concern and fear amongst the Christian community who want to sort of get on with going to church and worshipping in the ways they would want to worship without this fear hanging over them that somebody might turn up to try and kill them.
“It should be said as well that these attacks often don’t just impact on Christians, but also security personnel who have been stationed in many of these locations to protect churches.”
With Christmas approaching, terrorists in Egypt often take advantage of Christian holy days to lash out at believers. Please cover Egyptian Christians in prayer, “that God would have His hand of protection over the churches and the Christian communities on the holy days and throughout the year, and that security processes would be in place and would be working to prevent attacks on the Christian community.”
Also, Windsor asks, “[Pray] that those who would perpetrate such acts of evil would have their eyes opened to the wickedness of such acts and would turn and repent in this life.”
Click here to learn more about Middle East Concern’s ministry defending Christians’ religious freedom.
Header photo courtesy of Open Doors USA.