President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
The persecution of Christians in Egypt commonly occurs at community level. Incidents range from Christian women being harassed while walking in a street to whole communities of Christians being forced to move out of their homes by mobs of Muslim extremists. Such events typically happen in Upper Egypt, where ultra-conservative Islamic Salafist movements are active in rural communities.
Christians are typically treated as second-class citizens. While Egypt’s government speaks positively about the Christian community, the lack of serious law enforcement and the unwillingness of local authorities to protect Christians leave them vulnerable to all kinds of attacks. The dictatorial nature of the regime means Christians feel unable to speak out against these practices.
Churches and Christian groups face many difficulties when trying to construct new buildings. The hindrances come both from state restrictions and from communal hostility and mob violence.
Christians from a Muslim background face enormous pressure from their families to return to Islam. The state also makes it impossible for them to get any official recognition of their conversion.
“If someone is willing to kill me for my faith, my God must be powerful.”
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.
The biggest threat for converts from Islam to Christianity continues to come from family members
Most incidents of persecution take place in Upper Egypt, which is known to be more conservatively Islamic and extremist than the north. The Minya Governorate is notorious for the high number of attacks on Christians. However, believers in the economically disadvantaged rural areas in the north experience a similar degree of oppression. Islamic extremist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood have nationwide support, but violent Islamic militants are only openly active in the northeastern area of the Sinai peninsula.
Open Doors works through local partners in Egypt to support the church with literacy training, education, advocacy support, medical care and youth, family and women’s ministry.