Fresh news from Egypt

The National Director of Aid to the Church in Need in the UK is in Egypt. Here are his 2 last emails:

As celebrations erupted in Tahrir Square, Cairo, last night there was hope amongst Christians and seemingly most Egyptians that a positive change will now come about. These hopes were reflected when I was speaking to Bishop Joannes Zakaria in Luxor yesterday afternoon – he said; “It will take a long time, but I hope we will now see positive changes. The use of religion here in politics has been like in your Middle Ages – it took you a long time to develop your democratic system.”

“We are a missionary Church, laying down the rocks for the future, for our people. It is the work of the Holy Spirit,” said Bishop Joannes Zakaria. He is certainly trusting in God, building for the poor and for their future. He added: “I trust in God… and your prayers and help. We pray for you!”
At this critical time – reports of some attacks on churches in the regions have come in overnight – please continue in prayer for peace in the Middle East, for Christians and all peoples.

Thank you. Deo Gratias.

Neville Kyrke-Smith
Aid to the Church in Need UK

• 7/3/2013

In Luxor last night a military helicopter flew overhead – I heard local Egyptians shout “Sisi! Sisi!” – the name of the head of the military, welcoming the intervention. Protestors were gathering on a hot evening. Pro and anti-Morsi groups shouted their way past the residence of Bishop Joannes Zakaria, the Coptic Catholic Bishop of Luxor. Later, near the centre of Luxor, I saw men fetching clubs from a mosque to go to fight, bricks lying in the road and crowds gathering. Police were trying to intervene – the flashing lights on their vehicles could be seen at the end of one street – and then ambulances could be heard as the injured were attended to. Local media have confirmed some shooting took place, but as yet there is no figure for casualties.

Sadly, this was the scene in much of Egypt as the deadline for military intervention comes later today at 5pm, Tuesday 3rd July. The will of the majority is for change – as the Tamaroud petition of more than 22 million showed and as the huge numbers of anti-Morsi protesters witnessed. Yet the problem is that the fanatical Muslim Brotherhood has been pushed into a corner – and President Morsi upped the temperature further last night in a rallying call to his supporters saying that he would be prepared to die.

As Bishop Joannes Zakaria switched off all lights early last night and bolted the doors, I asked him if he had a contingent plan. “If people come to my door, I answer. I am here to greet all and to speak with them. I am prepared!”

On the Feast of St Thomas, let us join in this same faith – and pray for all our Egyptian brothers and sisters.

Neville Kyrke-Smith
National Director
Aid to the Church in Need UK

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