In Egypt, where Islam dominates nearly all aspects of society, the small remnant of Coptic Christians is exposed to extreme lawlessness from Muslim militants.

On January 13th, 27-year-old Coptic Christian Bassem Herz Attalhah, was shot to death on a street in El Arish, the capital of the North Sinai Governorate in Egypt. Bassem was heading home from work with his brother and a Muslim friend when three Islamic militants, their faces uncovered, confronted them. Bassem’s brother, Osama, later told a news agency he knew that the men, possibly from the Islamic State affiliate known as the Sinai Province, were “looking for a Copt to kill.”

The militants demanded that Bassem, Osama, and their friend display their hands, as many Coptic Christians have a small cross-shaped tattoo on their wrists. After seeing a cross tattoo on Bassem, the men asked if he was a Christian. Bassem’s answer would determine their next actions; he responded with a resounding yes. The men shot Bassem in the head there on the street.

Bassem Herz Attalhah. (Copts United)

Osama and their Muslim friend fled in shock. Osama says, “Our house turned into screaming and crying. We [could] not imagine what happened. The gunmen were walking in the street without any objection, and their faces were open to everyone. They were not arrested.” Osama said of his brother,
“We lost a person dear to our hearts. My brother Bassem was a very good and kind man. He had a strong relationship with God. He was always reading in the Bible, praying and going to the church. He was loved by all people,”

That such Muslim ruthlessness against Christians goes unpunished is consistent with Egypt’s historical record. Evangelized by the Apostle Mark in the first century, Egypt was home to a flourishing Christianity for many centuries. Then, with the rise of Islam in the 7th century and invasion by Muslim warriors, Islam became the dominant religion as it so often does — at the point of a sword. Christians were forced to convert upon the penalty of slave-like status or death.

A Coptic cross tattooed on a wrist, like the one over which Bassem was killed. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)

The ideological system of Islam, encompassing not only religion but also politics, economics, and culture, has remained the majority in Egypt ever since. As other writers have noted, Islam’s apostasy law is a recipe for its numerical domination over other religions. “Once all these Christians converted to Islam, all their progeny became Muslim in perpetuity, thanks to Islam’s apostasy law, which bans Muslims from leaving Islam on pain of death. Indeed, according to Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a leading cleric in the Muslim world, “If the [death] penalty for apostasy was ignored, there would not be an Islam today; Islam would have ended on the death of the prophet.””

It is in this environment that Smyrna’s Egyptian partner ministers. In addition to counseling troubled teenage girls in Egypt, she produces mass media that presents the Gospel to Egyptian audiences. Please pray for her ministry and her perseverance, that the Word of God will shine like a beacon there.

“But the Lord loves justice; He will not forsake His saints.” — Psalm 37:28

Pray —

3/17 — Pray for deep encouragement in Christ’s presence for the grieving family of Bassem. Pray for His comfort for all who mourn the deaths of loved ones martyred for their faith in Egypt.

3/18 — Ask God to provide His peace that passes understanding to those who are grieving and living in fear of the wickedness of man in Egypt.

3/19 — Pray for the fruitful work of our partner’s ministry in Egypt: Christian evangelistic programming for 3 satellite TV channels seen throughout the Arab world and beyond.

3/20 — Pray that Coptic Christians will know and hold fast to the core doctrines of our faith in Christ when confronted by Satanic lies of Islam.

3/21 —Pray that the Holy Spirit will draw all the Church in Egypt to rely on God who raises the dead and delivers His people in answer to prayer.

3/22 — Pray for God’s wisdom to reside in Christians in Egypt as they seek divinely appointed opportunities for the spread of the Gospel and the expansion of His Kingdom.

3/23 — Pray that the truth of the Lord’s goodness and love will become more widely known in Egypt and evidenced through the lives of Coptic Christians.

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