How many Christians are there in Egypt?
There are just over 16 million Christians in Muslim-majority Egypt, comprising 16% of the country’s population.
How are Christians persecuted in Egypt?
The persecution of Christians in Egypt commonly occurs at community level and in Upper Egypt, where ultra-conservative Islamic Salafist movements are active in rural communities. While Egypt's government speaks positively about the Christian community, the lack of serious law enforcement adds to the vulnerability of believers.
Christian women are regularly targeted through coerced marriage, rape and forced conversion, especially those living in rural and economically disadvantaged areas. Female converts from Islam are also vulnerable to house arrest, physical abuse, divorce, disinheritance, torture or even death.
Christian men are regularly the victims of abduction. This is often carried out to secure a ransom. Such incidents engender fear among the local Christian community. Social media is also used as a tool to falsely accuse Christian men. The challenges facing Christian men in Egypt extend to difficulty finding work, particularly in rural areas.
Churches and Christian groups face many difficulties when trying to construct new buildings, be it from state restrictions or communal hostility.
“If someone is willing to kill me for my faith, my God must be powerful.” sara
What’s life like for Christians in Egypt?
Christians in Egypt are typically treated as second-class citizens – and it’s for this reason many believers are attacked.
This includes Sara*. The day she was attacked was like many other days: she was walking a busy, brightly lit street without wearing a veil, which distinguished her as a Christian, and praying the Lord’s Prayer. But then she felt a sharp object hit her body.
“Dirty Christian, die!” she heard a man shouting as her legs began to tremble and she fell to the floor. Sara later heard that, after fainting, the attacker – dressed in the typical white clothes of Islamic extremist Salafists – continued threatening her. Though a crowd had gathered, he didn’t feel the need to flee – probably because he knew he was unlikely to face any consequences.
Sara miraculously survived, but her story is not unique. Attacks on Christians are frequent and many extremists avoid punishment, often because they have allies in the police force.
Remarkably, Sara has forgiven her attacker and regularly prays for him. “I hope that God will touch his heart,” she says with a smile.
*Name changed for security reasons
Is it getting hard to be a Christian in Egypt?
The challenges facing Christians in Egypt remain largely unchanged, although there has been a drop in levels of violence. This is most likely linked to Covid-19 restrictions – Christian activities have significantly decreased, which invites less 'provocation', and would-be perpetrators have been off the streets due to lockdowns.
How can I help Christians in Egypt?
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Egypt. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors works through local partners in Egypt to support the church with literacy training, education support, advocacy, medical care, and youth, family and women’s ministries.
Father God, we recognise that many of our brothers and sisters are hurting, grieving and fearful because of the cost that comes with following Jesus in Egypt. Powerfully minister Your peace, healing and comfort to their hearts and fill them with fresh hope, joy and faith. Keep Your children from harm. May the light of Your love shine brightly through them, drawing many to You. Amen.