Video Mocking IS Causes Riots in Egypt
Homes and businesses of Coptic believers were attacked on April 8th, as a teacher and four teenagers were arrested for “contempt of religion.”
On February 4th, while volunteering at a Christian conference Egyptian teacher Gad Younan, 42, recorded a 32-second video on his phone in which five teenage boys are seen laughing and joking as they pretend to be members of the Islamic State, or IS, praying to Allah. Younan later misplaced his phone’s memory card, and it was picked up by a Muslim.
On April 7th, Younan was arrested and remains in custody awaiting trial for “contempt of religion.” On April 9th, four of the boys were brought by their parents to the police station. Police are searching for the fifth teen.
Younan faces a potential jail term of up to seven years, if convicted. Regardless of the outcome of the trial, he has been “banished” from Al-Nasriyah village by fellow Christians who hope to appease local Muslims.
The boys, too young to serve jail time, could still receive suspended sentences. A Christian committee decided they will be allowed to remain in the village, as will Younan’s wife and two sons. Still, the boys’ actions have already produced widespread consequences that will undoubtedly be long lasting.
Though the intent of the video was to insult IS rather than Islam as a whole, local Muslims reacted to the video by marching in the streets and pelting the homes and businesses of Christians with stones for three days. Christians were unable to attend Easter services due to the violence.
Though threats continued, Rev. Azer Tawadros, a Coptic priest at St. Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church, said police arrived and “controlled the situation.” He added, however, that Copts are afraid of what will happen once the police are gone.
At an April 17th “reconciliation meeting,” the Christians attempted to appease their Muslim neighbors and calm the situation by condemning the video and agreeing that Younan be banished from the village, a decision they hope will also preserve his life.
Cairo-based Coptic newspaper Watani reported that “contempt of religion” cases have “gained momentum” since the 2011 Arab Spring and that, despite the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, “fundamentalist thought and fanaticism still lingers, especially in rural areas where education is minimal.”
Another nine cases have also been recorded in the first three months of 2015.
Source: World Watch Monitor
Father of Mercy, we lift before Your throne today Gad Younan and the five teens in Egypt. We pray for a speedy trial and for justice to prevail. We pray for forgiveness to reign among both Christians and Muslims, and for understanding on the part of the Muslim community in interpreting the motivation behind the video. We pray for special favor for the teens; that they might soon be released in time to complete their exams. We pray for Younan and his family; that You would strengthen and encourage them as the ordeal continues for them. We pray that the life of Christ in him might be a light that leads others to Christ, and that he would become a beacon of hope for Your church in Egypt. In the Name of Christ, who lives and reigns in us, Amen.