Christmas is a time of great joy where many come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and flood churches.
But in some places, it’s a bold courageous action and a real tribute to faith to go to church.
Christians going to church on at a Coptic church outside of Cairo faced that horrible reality.
From Los Angeles Times:
Hundreds of Muslim demonstrators attacked an unlicensed church south of Cairo, wounding three people, an Egyptian Coptic Christian diocese said Saturday, in the latest assault on members of the country’s Christian minority.
The incident took place after Friday prayers when dozens of demonstrators gathered outside the building and stormed it. The demonstrators chanted hostile slogans and called for the church’s demolition, the diocese in Atfih said. The demonstrators destroyed the church’s contents and assaulted Christians inside before security personnel arrived and dispersed them.
Three Christians were wounded in the attack and treated at the hospital.
The church, while not officially sanctioned by the government, has been there for 15 years.
Local authorities often refuse to give building permits for new churches, fearing protests by Muslim conservatives. That has prompted Christians to illegally build churches or set up churches in other buildings. In contrast, building a mosque results in few restrictions.
Christians make up about 10% of Egypt’s population, which is mostly Muslim. Sectarian violence occasionally erupts, mainly in rural communities in the south.
Thr Christian minority has frequently been targeted by Islamic militants, with several attacks since last year that have left more than 100 dead and dozens wounded.
The country is still under a state of emergency since suicide bombings at two Coptic Churches on Palm Sunday that left many dead and wounded.
Thousands attended their funerals in April.
What is the strength of your faith if you feel you can’t allow others to believe differently than you and that you must destroy them?
That’s the Islamic extremist who in that area is not just the rare terrorist, but the not uncommon next door neighbor.
As people celebrate Christmas and the holiday in safety, it’s sobering to remember there are those who are not as lucky, for whom just the act of going to church is heroic.
[Note: This post is written by Nick Arama]