SANTA ANA, Calif. (Sept. 14, 2012) – Angry demonstrations and attacks on Western interests continued to spread across the Middle Eastern and north African regions and into Asia with already marginalized Christians attempting to keep low profiles. The protests came in the wake of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which killed American Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three of his U.S. colleagues.
The Libyan U.S. consulate attack was allegedly triggered by the discovery of an anti-Islamic film produced in the United States by someone linked to Morris Sadek, an Egyptian Copt resident in the United States. It was the film's translation into Arabic and its broadcast on Arab TV stations and talk shows that sparked the violence, although investigations are now under way in Washington to establish whether the worst of the violence was not spontaneous.
“Please join me in prayer for the millions of Christians and others placed in harm’s way due to reaction to this film,” says Open Doors USA spokesman Michael Wood. “Christians in these Muslim-dominated areas are already marginalized and face intense persecution. Now these angry protests will only increase their suffering, especially for Muslim Background Believers (those who came to faith from Islam).”
In Egypt, the religious TV channel al-Nas showed clips from the offending video, dubbed into Arabic, and scenes posted online have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, according to Open Doors News.
Egypt Independent, the English version of one of Egypt’s leading newspapers, Al Masry al Youm, has reported that Sadek was banned from entering Egypt and had his citizenship revoked in May 2011 because he called for war against the country.
Egyptian Coptic organizations moved quickly to distance themselves. Egyptian intellectual and researcher Adel Guindy, president of Coptic Solidarity, said the much-hyped film was “stupid and sickening. We don’t know for sure if Maurice Sadek has anything to do with the film” but if he has, “I think Sadek took the opportunity to provoke Muslims in Egypt, as usual.”
Other Egyptian Christian leaders also condemned the film. The Coptic Orthodox Church issued a statement condemning the film as “abusive” to the Prophet Mohammed, “carried out by some Copts living abroad,” and “rejecting such acts that offend religious beliefs and all religions.”
The Coptic Orthodox Church expressed its indignation at the link with Egyptian Copts, stressing that the film’s as-yet unconfirmed producers were “expressing their personal views only and do not represent the Egyptian Church or Christians who are in Egypt.” The statement added that “the Church and its Holy Synod reject any abuse of all religious beliefs.”
Many Christians in the region are keeping a low profile while the furor boils on the streets.
“We were told at church today that demonstrations were planned for 1 p.m. at mosques after prayer, so it would be best to stay put. We did,” a Cairo Christian told Open Doors News. “All is quiet in the neighborhood. I think it is mainly downtown where the problems are taking place.”
“The Imam's message was particularly enraged in tone,” said the Christian, whose identity is being withheld for safety’s sake. “Most Christians were staying at home today. Who knows what will happen?”
c. 2012 Open Doors USA. Used with permission.
An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world's most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to our website at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.
Publication date: September 14, 2012