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Reconciliation Session in Egypt - World Watch Monitor
The reconciliation session in Al-Koumair village.
Photo: World Watch Monitor

For more than 30 years, Christians in the village of Al-Koumair had been gathering at the home of one of their community members for worship. As numbers increased, they purchased a house in 2006, along with an adjacent building to provide their community a church, meeting hall, nursery and accommodations. Muslim villagers were aware of the de-facto church, having attended weddings and funerals over the years.

After recent changes were made to Egyptian laws, making it easier for churches to obtain permits, the church applied for legalization. However, when inspectors arrived to begin the process in late March, they were met by a group of angry Muslim villagers who threw bricks and stones at the church as well as neighbouring houses.

On March 31st, a mob gathered again in protest; and the police, in response, detained eight Muslims and seven Christians for 15 days. When asked why the church members were arrested, they were told it was "in order to keep the balance." The detention was extended twice, until both sides signed a reconciliation agreement on April 26th, dropping all charges. The authorities also closed the church, despite the law stating that religious activities cannot be suspended during the application process.

Another church in Halilah also faced a similar mob on April 16th, forcing their church to close, even though they were in the midst of the application process. In that instance, there were no arrests. At last report, over 3,500 applications are pending throughout the country. For more reports on the challenges facing Christians in Egypt, go to our Egypt Country Report.

Pray that Egyptian authorities will be willing and able to uphold their laws while keeping peace in these volatile situations. May the Christians in Egypt be able to continue meeting together for the study of God's Word and worship.