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Christianity Today Middle East Published Articles

Egyptian Christians Brace for (and Debate) New Round of Protests

From my June 28 article published on Christianity Today:

Frustrated Egyptians will take to the streets June 30, on the one year anniversary of President Morsi’s inauguration. Dubbed the ‘Rebellion Campaign’, the grassroots movement announced the collection of fifteen million signatures to depose the president and demand early elections.

“The situation in Egypt is very serious,” wrote Bishop Mouneer Hanna of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt. “I do not know where this situation will take us. I feel that Egypt is at the verge of violent demonstrations, another revolution, or civil war.”

‘Rebellion’ organizers pledged their demonstrations will be non-violent, but Muslim Brotherhood leaders warn a violent turn – perhaps organized by supporters of the former regime – will undue the successes of the Egyptian revolution. Yet they insist on holding counter-demonstrations in advance of June 30, setting the stage for clashes between the two sides.

Please click here to read the full (brief) article on Christianity Today.

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Prayers

Friday Prayers for Egypt: Rebellion, Legitimacy and Fire

Flag Cross Quran

God,

Watch over Egypt this weekend. Watch over her in what follows. Keep her future in your hands.

As the Rebellion campaign is in its final preparation hours for anticipated massive June 30 demonstrations at the presidential palace, other forces are also at work. An unrelated protest brought thousands and perhaps tens of thousands to Tahrir Square to demand President Morsi leave.

But pro-Morsi protestors have gathered in the tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands not far from the presidential palace, supporting his right to the remainder of his term. Meanwhile, especially in the Nile Delta, violence has flared as Muslim Brotherhood headquarters have been attacked in multiple cities.

Throughout the nation hundreds have been injured and a few have died. Many fear today was just a dry run, a dress rehearsal for the battle to come.

Each party, God, has pushed forward a D-Day scenario. How is it possible now for the right and the good on all sides to prevail? The president has electoral legitimacy, but from a constitution and post-revolutionary process many view as illegitimate. The opposition has legitimate grievances, but many of their supporters advance them in an illegitimate way. The president’s Islamist supporters claim religious legitimacy, but many speak as if they are fighting illegitimate infidels.

God, is it legitimate to be both sad and hopeful for Egypt? You are putting the nation through a crucible; tried by fire, will only the pure emerge?

May it be so. Fire proves the quality of men’s work. It tests their character and reveals their inner being. God, Egypt is in such great need of this evaluation. Give discernment to the people, and place sovereignty in their hands.

Or, God, is this your other fire? Is it punishment for sins collected, whether over long years or recent months? If so, be merciful. May your hand of judgment fall only on the deserving, and even for them, may it eventually redeem. Spare the innocent, shield the righteous, and aid the poor. Only you know their numbers, God, but do not pour your wrath upon the nation as a whole. She has suffered enough.

But God, perhaps there is no fire at all. Perhaps there is little legitimacy anywhere. Perhaps this is a drama construed simply for reshuffling the chairs of power. But may this not be so. Make life more than theater; honor men and their freedom of action. May manipulations and deception cease in Egypt.

God, bless the president. May he do what is wise and necessary for the peace and prosperity of the nation.

Amen.

 

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Personal

A Signature Rebellion

I got in a taxi on Thursday and within a few minutes of conversation the driver asked my nationality. This has been a sensitive question recently; last week an American near the embassy answered in the positive and was stabbed in the neck for his troubles. ‘I hate America,’ the assailant confessed afterwards.

For the taxi driver, however, it was an opportunity of a different sort. After I owned up to my nationality he leaned over to his glove compartment and…

Rebellion Flyer

… pulled out a sheet of paper.

In fact it was one of many, some signed, most not yet. The driver was preaching the merits of a new campaign to oust President Morsi, and wanted me to convey the message to America. As I mentioned in Friday Prayers yesterday, they aim to collect fifteen million signatures to their petition, vaulting over the total number of votes cast for Morsi in the presidential elections. They claim two million to date.

Their grand finale is planned for June 30, at the presidential palace, one year to the day in which Morsi took office.

Here is the translation of their flyer:

REBEL

To withdraw confidence from the Brotherhood regime

The Rebellion Campaign

(to withdraw confidence from Mohamed Morsi ….)

Because security has not yet returned to the street … we don’t want you

Because the poor still do not have a place … we don’t want you

Because we are still begging from abroad … we don’t want you

Because the rights of the martyrs still have not been fulfilled … we don’t want you

Because there is still no dignity for myself or my country … we don’t want you

Because the economy has collapsed and is built upon begging … we don’t want you

Because you follow the Americans … we don’t want you

Since Mohamed Morsi the … came to power, the simple citizen has felt that not one goal of the revolution has been achieved – for bread, freedom, social justice, and national independence. Morsi has failed to realize them all. No security, no social justice – he is a demonstrated failure in the complete sense of the word. It is not fitting for him to administrate a nation of Egypt’s weight.

Therefore:

I, the undersigned, from my free and complete will, as a member of the general assembly of the Egyptian people, withdraw confidence from the president of the republic, the dictator Mohamed Morsi, and call for early presidential elections. I pledge to hold firmly to the goals of the revolution and to work on their behalf, spreading the Rebellion Campaign among the masses until we are able to achieve social dignity, justice, and freedom.

Name:

National Number:

Governorate:

Signature:

Would you sign?

Categories
Prayers

Friday Prayers for Egypt: Sinai, Rebellion

Flag Cross Quran

God,

Egypt is not quite rumbling again; bubbling is more like it, though the bubbles can grow bigger. Security apprehended alleged terrorists plotting to blow up the US and French embassies, while their colleagues in the Sinai abduct seven security officers.

In Cairo a small protest in Tahrir threatens a creative escalation. The ‘rebellion’ campaign is collecting signatures to demand the departure of President Morsi. The have announced two million so far; they aim for fifteen – more than the total ballots cast in Morsi’s favor – by June 30, the day he assumed office. On that date they will return in mass to the presidential palace.

Many Islamists complain there is no legal legitimacy to their action. Of course they are right, but there was no legality to the demonstrations which deposed Mubarak either. It is the symbolism which is important – if they can get the numbers.

Terrorists, though, do not need numbers. They need space, materials, and determination alone. Few dispute their illegality, but along similar lines, the symbolism is important.

God, amid Egypt’s many problems, few prayers have been necessary concerning terrorism. For this thanks is necessary; terrorism has been a constant in Syria, with appearances in Tunisia and Libya as well. For all deserved criticism of the security void there has been vigilance on this front. May it continue; free the abducted personnel and give the authorities wisdom and perseverance in the Sinai.

And of rebellion? Surely the name is not that pleasing, God. Is the campaign? Is it honest? Does it use the memory and practice of demonstrations past simply for political pressure? Or is the real end game to remove the popularly elected leader? If so, by what mechanism?

It is good to have popular means of accountability and activism, but it is troublesome many feel this is the only avenue for political participation. Frustrations are high and shared ideals are broken amid widespread polarization. But does Egypt need another uprising? Can it stomach one?

God, you know what is behind the scenes, if anything. But may those putting their signatures to paper be represented well. May the opposition be properly empowered. May the president fulfill the demands of the people. May the civil political arena widen.

Give patience and determination to the ‘rebels’, God; urgency and flexibility to the president.

Give constriction and repentance to the terrorists, God; space and vision to the president.

For Egypt, God, give all of the above, merged together in sovereignty, prosperity, and peace. May the bubbles turn out beautiful.

Amen.