By SARA BALLENGER, CAPITAL HILL PRAYER PARTNERS—
1. UNDERSTANDING THE SITUATION IN EGYPT:
SAT-7 Brings Firsthand Clarity
In the wake of a bloody government crackdown on Egyptian protestors that left hundreds dead and thousands injured, SAT-7 Christian satellite television broadcasts from Egypt are bringing a firsthand view of the unethical practices of the Morsi presidency and its sham of “democracy,” with insights and understanding not currently reported by mainstream Western media.
Amid the ongoing destruction of churches by supporters of ousted president Morsi, Egyptian Christian leaders are responding with reconciliation and forgiveness, stressing that the church is not mere buildings, but rather “the Body of Christ” composed of people and their faith in him.
SAT-7 has been covering the political situation since the anti- and pro-Morsi protests began at the end of June, helping viewers better understand and engage with the situation from a Biblical faith perspective through its current affairs programming, broadcast live from Egypt.
In his June 2012 election, Morsi received only 13 million votes from the Egyptian population of 83 million, according to Terence Ascott, CEO and founder of SAT-7 International (www.sat7usa.org) in a recent commentary.
Taking wide-sweeping power without censure, he filled key government positions with former Muslim Brotherhood leaders, some of whom had previous convictions for violence or incitement to violence, and rushed through a pro-Islamic constitution despite protests and boycotts from liberals, moderate Muslims and Christians, said Ascott. Morsi refused to call for new elections, as he had previously agreed to do after a new constitution had been adopted.
Into this political scenario, with a failing economy and crumbling infrastructure, while as many as 30 million people protested during Morsi’s first anniversary, the army responded and removed him from office, said Ascott. Following an ensuing six weeks of pro-Morsi occupation of public squares, demanding his reinstatement, blocking all traffic and promising retribution against the army, police, liberals and specifically Coptic Christians, deadly violence broke out August 14 as the army moved in to disburse them.
“The Muslim Brotherhood has been very effective with the Western media, portraying themselves as ‘victims’ and the army as a coup,” said Ascott. “This is not the version of the truth that resonates with the vast majority of Egyptians.”
Scores of business, homes, police stations, hospitals and other public buildings have been destroyed by Morsi supporters. At least 40 churches, a monastery, three religious societies, three key Bible Society bookshops, three Christian schools and an orphanage have been burned or otherwise destroyed.
Some Muslims who rushed to help preserve churches and Christian properties were urged by Christians to return home. “Buildings can be rebuilt, but you are priceless, so stay safe,” they reportedly said. “Buildings are not the Church. The Body of Christ is the Church, and we are firmly intact.”
General Sisi, commander-in-chief of Egyptian armed forces and Minister of Defense, subsequently announced the army will pay for renovating all the damaged churches.
SAT-7’s staff in Cairo has worked from home, and all are reported safe. According to Garas, they plan to broadcast their current affairs program “Bridges” as usual on Saturday, to cover the attacks on churches and the decision of Christian leaders to refuse outside protection, showing that the Church is standing for freedom over force.
“It seems we are experiencing a pruning process of the living body of Egypt,” said Garas.” It hurts, but it is important. We are sure we will see the fruit of freedom, and we trust the Creator who is in control.” Read more.
– For current violence to end soon
– For the re-establishment of effective rule of law and order for the benefit of all citizens
– For effective protection of church and other property against attacks by extremists
– For Egypt to be governed for the benefit of all its citizens, with people of different persuasions able to live alongside one another peaceably
– For Egyptian Christians to have opportunity to play an increasingly prominent and effective role in addressing the needs of all Egyptians and helping to bring healing and reconciliation in the country
2. EGYPTIAN CHRISTIANS SPEAK ABOUT THEIR SITUATION
We just received this email last night from our missionaries to the Middle East, they work with the missions pastor at Dr. Sameh Maurice’s church, Kasr El Dobara, in Cairo, Egypt, and across the Middle East. . . Our missionary is passing this up-to-the-minute information along first-hand from the missions pastor in Cairo.
From Terry and Barbi, Heart for the World, Inc.:
Christians across Egypt have been relentlessly persevering in fasting and prayer for several years now, sometimes in prayer meetings of over 70,000 Christians at once (we have the videos)! The spiritual battle continues to rage as many Christians, schools, churches, and Christian’s homes are bombed, burned, and Believers in Jesus are shot, wounded, and killed by the muslim extremists. Please pass this letter along to prompt as much prayer and support as possible.
From the missions pastor at Kasr El Dobara Church, Cairo, Egypt:
Thank you for your continuous prayers for Egypt. They are greatly needed. Today the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies of fanatic Islamic groups have reiterated their promise to burn Egypt. Their demonstrations were heavily armed with Kalashnikov rifles by which they were attacking police stations and even shooting people in their homes.
Videos on Youtube will show you this as well as five cars loaded with weapons taken in the middle of the protests. What is especially alarming and noteworthy is their flaunting of the famous Al Qaeda black flag towards the end of the video clip! The real face of terrorism is being unveiled. One could blatantly say it is a war on terrorism, or rather, it is a war against terrorism within Egypt and towards Egyptian Christians more specifically.
This explains why demonstrators put an Al Qaeda flag on a church in Sohag after burning it. Assaults and attacks on Christians and their churches continued in different parts all over Egypt today (Friday, August 16th). The estimated number of churches destroyed since the eruption of violence has reached around 82 churches.
While I’m writing this email to you, we are receiving news and messages from our friends in Malawi, a city in El Menia province in Southern Egypt with a huge Christian population, that after they burned the Catholic church and 3 Christian schools, they moved to the Evangelical church and actually burned it. They are continuing to attack, burning and looting Christian homes.
Please keep praying for the situation here. Please DO circulate this email to all your friends for prayer AND to raise support from media and decision makers.
3. EGYPT CONSIDERS OUTLAWING MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD
Egyptian authorities are considering disbanding the Muslim Brotherhood group, a government spokesman said Saturday, once again outlawing a group that held the pinnacle of government power just more than a month earlier.
The announcement comes after security forces broke up two sit-in protests this week by those calling for the reinstatement of President Mohammed Morsi, a Brotherhood leader deposed in a July 3 coup. The clashes killed more than 600 people that day and sparked protests and violence that killed 176 people Friday alone.
Cabinet spokesman Sherif Shawki said that Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, who leads the military-backed government, assigned the Ministry of Social Solidarity to study the legal possibilities of dissolving the group. He didn’t elaborate.
The Muslim Brotherhood group, founded in 1928, came to power a year ago when its Morsi was elected in the country’s first free presidential elections. The election came after the overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising in 2011. (AP)
– Offer praise for this bold move on behalf of the government of Egypt. It is wisdom to silence the voice of the Muslim Brotherhood in the halls of Egypt’s government in Cairo, for they govern only by ways of lawlessness. Praise the Lord!
– “From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be silenced.” (Proverbs 10:31)
4. HUNDREDS KILLED BY EGYPTIAN TROOPS
The crackdown started around 7:30 am with snipers shooting at TV equipment on the rooftop of the Raba’a Al Adawiya mosque. Many of the protestors on the roof ran into the mosque to take cover from the shooting.
A few minutes later, helicopters hovered in the air and soldiers began shooting tear gas at the middle followed by tear gas at the square’s crowd. This reporter also heard dozens of automatic rifle shots and personally saw at least 45 bodies.
The spokesman for Cairo’s health ministry said at least 95 people had been killed in the protests, which quickly spread to other parts of Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood put the death toll in the hundreds. A spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon issued a statement saying he regretted the use of violence to break up the pro-Morsi protests.
“The Secretary-General regrets that Egyptian authorities chose instead to use force to respond to the ongoing demonstrations,” Ban’s spokesperson said. “While recognizing that political clocks do not run backwards, the Secretary-General also believes firmly that violence and incitement from any side are not the answers to the challenges Egypt faces,” the statement said.
Egypt declared a month-long state of emergency and ordered the stock exchange and banks not to open tomorrow.
– Pray that the violence in Egypt does not spill over into Israel. Pray for divine protection over the Christians caught in the violence and for God to speak to the leaders directing the violence.
– “Teach me Your way, O LORD, and lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies. Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence.” (Psalm 27:11-12)
5. EGYPT CLOSER TO CIVIL WAR AS DEATH TOLL RISES AND ISLAMISTS TAKE TO STREETS
Supporters of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood stormed and torched government buildings in Cairo on Thursday, while families tried to identify hundreds of mutilated bodies piled in a Cairo mosque a day after they were shot dead by the security forces. At least 638 people were killed and close to 4,000 wounded in the worst day of civil violence in the modern history of the most populous Arab state. Brotherhood supporters claim the death toll is far higher, with hundreds of bodies yet uncounted by the authorities, whose troops and police crushed protests seeking the return of deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.
In defiance of appeals for restraint, Egypt’s Interior Ministry warned protesters that police officers were authorized to use lethal force to protect themselves. The ministry also promised to punish any “terrorist actions and sabotage” after at least two government buildings were burned early Thursday. Muslim Brotherhood supporters additionally attacked a dozen police stations around the country on Wednesday, killing more than 40 police officers. US President Obama said Thursday that the US “deplores” and “strongly condemns” the bloodshed in Egypt. It has urged all citizens residing there to leave the country immediately. Governments across Europe have criticized the violence and issued strong warnings against travel to Egypt. (Ynet/Ha’aretz)
“I will set Egyptians against Egyptians; everyone will fight against his brother, and everyone against his neighbor, city against city and kingdom against kingdom.” (Isaiah 19:2)
6. EGYPT’S CHURCHES AFLAME AS BROTHERHOOD TARGETS CHRISTIANS
Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority has become a target for Muslim Brotherhood supporters across the country in the wake of the military’s decision to clear supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi from their Cairo sit-ins. Immediately after security forces cleared encampments in two of the city’s squares, Islamists began attacking Christian churches.
Approximately 1,000 Muslim Brotherhood supporters set fire to two churches south of Cairo. Angry mobs also targeted churches, monasteries and other church properties in Alexandria, Suez and a number of other cities in Upper Egypt. A total of seven Catholic Churches and fifteen Coptic Orthodox and Protestant churches have reportedly been torched by pro-Morsi mobs, including several ancient ones.
Brotherhood supporters also wreaked havoc on Coptic Christian businesses and property throughout the country. Coptic priests and laymen have been killed and churches have been burned or scrawled with anti-Christian graffiti. Brotherhood supporters blame the Copts for toppling former President Morsi because Coptic Pope Tawadros II backed the military’s July 3 move to oust him. (IPT News/Arutz-7)
7. “INCOHERENT” OBAMA POLICY ON EGYPT UNDER FIRE AS VIOLENCE SPREADS
As Egypt descends into chaos, President Obama is facing increasing criticism that an “incoherent” policy toward the country — much like U.S. policy toward Syria — is putting U.S. money and influence on the line without a clear end-game.
Obama administration claims to be staying neutral in the violent confrontation between the military-backed government and Muslim Brotherhood supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi. . . “America cannot determine the future of Egypt,” Obama said Thursday, in brief remarks from Martha’s Vineyard, where he’s vacationing, as he appealed for calm and condemned the violence.
Yet the administration is sending mixed signals. While the president directly spoke out against the military-backed government on Thursday — and canceled upcoming joint military exercises — the U.S. has refused to label Morsi’s ouster a coup. That means, under U.S. law, the administration can continue to send $1.5 billion in annual aid to the Egyptian government.
John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under the George W. Bush administration, called the current policy “completely incoherent. You can’t have your press secretary say … that this is up for Egyptians to answer, and then try and get in the middle of it,” Bolton said. (Fox News) Read more.
-Obama has been a strong supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in every Islamic nation, and Egypt is no exception. Now, he is facing the consequences of his own, heavy-handed actions: imposing his will on that of the citizens of Egypt, the vast majority of whom want to rid themselves of Morsi and his MB party.
-Lift up our president and ask our Lord to touch his heart, so that his own policy and that of our nation would not be “incoherent” but solidly “coherent” — solidly supporting the rights of a free people to govern themselves. Pray!
-“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” (Proverbs 21:1)
8. THE PENTAGON HAS LOST ITS LEVERAGE WITH EGYPT. NOW WHAT?
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been on the phone with his Egyptian counterpart, Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Sissi, almost every day since the July 3 military ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. And every day he has urged the Egyptian defense minister to find a peaceful resolution to the political turmoil. He’s called al-Sissi at least 15 times since the military booted Morsi from power, a Pentagon official told Defense One.
By all accounts, al-Sissi had agreed. Just last week, Hagel hung up the phone with Cairo and was reassured that the Egyptian military wanted a peaceful transition. “Minister Al-Sisi underscored his commitment to peaceful resolution of the ongoing protests, and thanked Secretary Hagel for U.S. support,” the Pentagon said, in a description of the Aug. 5 phone call.
After yesterday’s bloody crackdown in the streets of Egypt that left more than 500 dead, including women and children, and scores more injured, it’s clear that Hagel’s pleas have gone unheard or ignored. With world leaders, including President Barack Obama, decrying the massacre, and ice bags and desk fans futilely cooling the overflowing bodies in Cairo’s morgues, Hagel called al-Sissi again on Thursday. According to a Pentagon statement, Hagel “reiterated that the United States remains ready to work with all parties to help achieve a peaceful, inclusive way forward. The Department of Defense will continue to maintain a military relationship with Egypt,” Hagel said, “but I made it clear that the violence and inadequate steps towards reconciliation are putting important elements of our longstanding defense cooperation at risk.”
-Yes, what now, indeed? Once again, it appears as if our intelligence agencies either did not see this revolution coming, or if they did — they worked to “filter” the ground reports to meet their own set agenda for Egypt. History has now proven them wrong. Pray not only for Mr. Obama as the U.S. seeks to reposition its foreign policy vis-a-vis the new government in place, but be in prayer, too, for all of his own military and intelligence advisers. Pray that they will set a course of action for Egypt that will enable its citizens to be free to determine their own future, free of anyone else’s agenda for them. Pray!
-“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority . . .” (I Timothy 2:1)
9. MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD CLAIMS THEY HAVE GOODS ON OBAMA
The son of a jailed Muslim Brotherhood leader in Egypt is claiming his father has evidence that will land President Obama in prison. The claim came as the Obama administration, with the assistance of Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and the open involvement of the No. 2 man at the U.S. State Department, made a concerted effort to see Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Egypt released.
In an interview with the News Agency Anatolia in Turkey, Saad Al-Shater, the son of imprisoned Muslim Brotherhood leader Khairat Al -Shater, said his father “had in his hand” evidence that will put Obama in prison. In a thinly veiled threat, Saad Al-Shater said a U.S. delegation was sent to Cairo by Obama to press for the release of the imprisoned Muslim Brotherhood leaders, including his father to prevent the release of explosive information.
-Wouldn’t it be ironic if members of the Muslim Brotherhood became whistleblowers against the actions of this administration in Egypt? The Lord’s ways are amazing and past finding out. Pray in the spirit over this report by WorldNetDaily. If proven true, these hidden facts could, indeed, have an explosive impact upon our own nation.
-“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8,9)
10. ISRAEL KEEPS A WARY EYE ON TURMOIL IN EGYPT
Before the violence this week in Cairo, the Israeli government was quietly pleased with the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi and the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, which has always been hostile to Israel. But now the mass killings have left Israel in the uncomfortable position of being a spectator to the crisis unfolding in Egypt, though one with a huge stake in the outcome. “I think that the whole world should support Sisi,” Ehud Barak, a former prime minister and defense minister of Israel, said on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” last weekend. He was referring to Egypt’s military commander, Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, who ousted Mr. Morsi, an Islamist, last month.
After this week’s bloodshed, as the military cleared the Muslim Brotherhood protest encampments in the Egyptian capital, there were no such expressions of support, official or otherwise, for General Sisi. Israeli officials have not commented publicly on Egypt’s internal affairs, either before or after this week’s brutal events, a policy that speaks to both the fragility and the necessity of Israel’s relations with its strategically important neighbor.
“Anything we say will be held against us,” said an Israeli official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of what he described as the “volatility” of the diplomatic situation. “If we condemn the violence we will be accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said, referring to rumors already circulating to that effect. “And if we say we don’t condemn it, then it looks like Israel is in cahoots with the Egyptian Army.” He added: “That does not mean that we don’t have our own opinion and interests.”
Israel’s main interest, according to officials and experts here, is a stable Egypt that can preserve the country’s 1979 peace treaty and restore order along the border in the Sinai Peninsula, where Islamic militant groups are battling Egyptian forces and increasingly threatening Israel. . . Israel views the Egyptian military as the only force that can stabilize the deeply fractured country, and the Israel-Egypt peace treaty is predicated on the $1.5 billion a year in American military and economic aid to Egypt, the bulk of which goes to the Egyptian armed forces.
Before the military’s assault on the camps in Cairo began on Wednesday, the same Israeli official who spoke on the condition of anonymity about Israel’s interests said that Israel was telling its “friends” in the United States Congress, the White House and any other relevant body that it was in nobody’s interest to cut aid to Egypt, a step that he said would weaken the Egyptian Army and undercut efforts to stabilize the situation. After the assault, the same official was reluctant to discuss those efforts and if they would continue.
-Obviously, the situation in Egypt remains fluid and rather unpredictable. With our dear ally, Israel, at Egypt’s doorstep, lift up the Israeli authorities in prayer, that they might be able to “catch the wind” of what is happening, and adjust their own policy accordingly. We pray that this new government in Egypt will be a true friend of Israel. In Jesus’ name, amen.
-“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” (Psalm 32:8)
11. RUSSIAN LEADER CALLS FOR WORLD TO UNITE TO END CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION
Vladimir Putin has urged the world’s political leaders to stop the violent persecutions against Christians that have erupted in many Middle Eastern countries. Speaking at a meeting with Orthodox Christian leaders in Moscow last week, the Russian President said he noted “with alarm” that “in many of the world’s regions, especially in the Middle East and in North Africa inter-confessional tensions are mounting, and the rights of religious minorities are infringed, including Christians and Orthodox Christians.”
“This pressing problem should be a subject of close attention for the entire international community,” Putin said. “It is especially important today to make efforts to prevent intercultural and interreligious conflicts, which are fraught with the most serious upheavals.”
Putin praised the growth of cooperation between the Orthodox Churches and the Russian state, saying, “We act as genuine partners and colleagues to solve the most pressing domestic and international tasks, to implement joint initiatives for the benefit of our country and people.”
-Lord God, we are grateful to hear this pronouncement from the mouth of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and we would like to take this at face value. But Lord, as we think of the character and the background of this man, a former KGB operative, we need to think twice about his agenda. We pray for revelation of motives and agendas, even as we, too, ask for the persecution of Christians around the world to end. We ask for wisdom as we pray, in Your Name, amen.
-“Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” (Proverbs 20:11)
12. SAUDI KING CALLS ON ARABS TO STAND WITH EGYPT
Saudi King Abdullah called on Arabs to stand together against “attempts to destabilize” Egypt, in a strong message of support for the country’s military leadership read out on Saudi television on Friday.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its people and government stood and stands by today with its brothers in Egypt against terrorism,” he said. “I call on the honest men of Egypt and the Arab and Muslim nations . . . to stand as one man and with one heart in the face of attempts to destabilize a country that is at the forefront of Arab and Muslim history,” he added.
Saudi Arabia was a close ally of former president Hosni Mubarak and has historically had a difficult relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood. It pledged $5 billion in aid to Egypt after Mohammed Mursi of the Brotherhood was ousted from the presidency last month.
-We are finding friends in very strange places these days! It is well known that, ever since the Shah of Iran was deposed by the ayatollahs in 1978, the House of Saud has lived in fear of the same thing happening to them. It is perhaps for this reason that King Abdullah has now taken this strong position against the radical Muslim Brotherhood, and has encouraged all other Arabs to do the same.
-Whatever the reason for this decree, we once again praise the Name of our God for moving upon the heart of this king in this manner. Thank You, Lord! Amen! – “All the ends of the world
Shall remember and turn to the Lord,
And all the families of the nations
Shall worship before You.
For the kingdom is the Lord’s,
And He rules over the nations.” (Psalm 22:27,28)