Egyptian Christians Celebrate Christmas Despite ISIS Attacks.
Egyptian Christians will celebrate Christmas this weekend even as Islamic militants step up attacks and vow to “wipe them out.”
“Pray for a safe and peaceful Christmas here, and for the protection of the Coptic Christians and the Egyptian church,” said Christian Freedom International’s s co-worker.
Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7.
Leading up to Christmas, gunmen killed 11 people at a church in Cairo, firing at the entrance of the church as people left the service on December 29. The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility.
Egyptian leaders have increased security around churches leading up to Coptic Christmas celebrations, deploying officers and installing metal detectors. This small church had only a few policemen. The ISIS militants “knew the entrances and exits of the church very well,” a priest at the church told World Watch Monitor.
Two days later, two brothers were killed after attending a New Year’s church service.
Adel and Ashraf were heading home from church with their children and stopped by their shop. “Once the shooting started, they quickly shielded their children, four children aged 5 to 12,” their nephew Sameh Masry told Christian Freedom International. The children survived, but the men lost their lives.
“There was no hostile relationship between my two uncles and others,” Sameh said. “The aim of this incident was to carry out a terrorist operation.” The shop was targeted “because they knew its owner was a Christian” and customers would be Christians.
“My two uncles were very kind and had a strong relationship with God. They were going to church always, and they were martyred after they prayed at the church. We are sure that they went to a very good place in Heaven, enjoying with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” Sameh said.
“Please pray for their wives, children and all of us that God comfort us and grant us the patience to endure parting,” he said.
Over 100 Egyptian Christians have been slain by Islamic militants in the past year, including two bomb attacks on Palm Sunday in April, and a suicide bomber at Cairo’s cathedral last December.
In May, at least 29 died when their vehicles were stopped on a road to a monastery by armed gunmen who demanded they recite an Islamic creed. They were shot point-blank when they declared their allegiance to Jesus Christ.
The Islamic militants’ attacks have driven Christians closer to Jesus.
“What happened to my husband has made my faith stronger,” the widow of one martyr told Christian Freedom International.
“These attacks increase our faith and strengthen our resolve to go to the churches,” reported Christian Freedom International’s co-worker in Egypt. “We are steadfast in our faith and rejoice, not grieve. None can prevent us from celebrating Christmas or praying.”
“They want to eliminate our smile,” said Bishop Anba Antonios Mina. “Reviving our joy is a miracle that only Jesus can do.”
Egypt’s President al-Sisi plans to attend Christmas Eve Mass at the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo. He vowed to continue “cleansing the country of terrorism and extremism,” reported The Tablet.