Rafiq Habib, a Christian researcher and son of the founder of a Christian social missions group, has reportedly become the acting chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in Egypt, according to World Bulletin. Egyptian experts confirmed to The Christian Post about Rafiq's astounding support for the Muslim Brotherhood, but those who know him personally rejected the report that he is leading the Islamic political organization as true.
Michael Youssef, an Egyptian-born pastor and leader of Leading the Way ministries in Georgia, told CP in a statement Friday, "His father, Dr. Sam Habib, was a dear friend of mine." Youssef described the son as "a nominal Christian."
The Egyptian-born megachurch pastor disagreed that Rafiq had become interim leader of the Muslim Brotherhood's political arm in Egypt. "That is not true," Youssef wrote, adding "a spokesman denied this news."
Nevertheless, the pastor agreed that Rafiq supports the Muslim Brotherhood and formerly served as vice president of FJP.
Rafiq's father, Sam Habib, runs the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS), which Youssef described as "the social work arm of the Coptic Evangelical Presbyterian Church."
Meanwhile, the Rev. Dr. Andrea Zaki Stephanous, general director of CEOSS, told CP, "Rafik is responsible for his action and he does not represent our organization in any way." She wrote that CEOSS supports "the June 30 revolution as well as the road map to democracy as proclaimed by the Army," which would be in direct conflict with the position of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Stephanous suggested that Rafiq's support for the Muslim Brotherhood drove a wedge between him and his father, who "never supported him" in this. Youssef confirmed this tension, saying the organization "began to distance itself from him when he joined that political party."
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, author of A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot's Fight to Save His Faith and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), told CP in a Tuesday interview, "I don't even know how to explain it – how a Christian would be helping advance the implementation of the Islamic state under Sharia…he would not be able to make laws."
Jasser, a Syrian-American who is vice chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, attempted to explain Rafiq's support for the Muslim Brotherhood by referring to Syria. "Many Christians worked for Assad even though they weren't pro-Baathist," he said.
"But the Muslim Brotherhood's motto is directly in conflict with being a Christian," Jasser argued. The motto is: "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope. Allahu akbar!"
"There's no way a non-Muslim would ever believe that would be the motto of their state," Jasser said. He speculated that there must be some larger goal Rafiq is trying to accomplish by "compromising himself to work with Islamists."
Emily Fuentes, communications and public relations coordinator for Christian persecution ministry Open Doors USA, explained to CP why some Christians might support the Brotherhood. "There are a lot of moderate Muslims who are still with the Brotherhood," she said, pointing out that only the extremists have attacked Christians.
"Christians have protected Muslims in prayer, Muslims have protected Christian masses," Fuentes explained, emphasizing the cooperation between moderate Muslims and Christians.
Nevertheless, last month, 73 churches and 212 Christian properties were destroyed in one week, Fuentes highlighted, based on documentation from Open Doors. "This is a whole new level of persecution that they've never endured before," she said, explaining that Christians had long been an accepted minority, perhaps denied civil rights but never openly attacked.
Amid the destruction, the Christians shone as "salt and light," Fuentes said. She mentioned a Facebook post from a Muslim neighbor, which commended Christians for being peaceful instead of retaliating with further violence.
The translation reads, "I praise 'Allah' that you, Christians, were not brought up with the same spirit of hatred and revenge, that we Muslims were brought up with! Because, if that was the case, after all these attacks on your churches, shops, homes and people, Egypt would have, by now, been completely burnt down. Keep your faith, live your principles and keep your hand lifted up to heaven as you pray for Egypt. Your prayers are the only hope for this country to raise up again."
While the violent attacks have decreased in the past month, Christians are still facing the new level of persecution, Fuentes said. She explained that women who do not cover their faces will be passed by buses, so it may take 5 hours to travel. Fuentes added that the level of kidnappings have also increased.