(Photo: Reuters/Asmaa Waguih)
The World Evangelical Alliance will hold an Egypt Summit in Washington, D.C., Feb. 7-8, at the request of Christian leaders in Egypt, the organization has announced.
The WEA is the largest global evangelical body with a network of churches in 129 nations and an alliance of 100 international organizations representing over 600 million Christians worldwide. The summit, to be held one year after the Arab Spring wave reached Cairo and resulted in the toppling of despotic president Hosni Mubarak, is a response to concerns expressed by the international Christian community who have been watching events unfold in Egypt since January 2011.
Christian observers have expressed concern about Muslim political parties sweeping an overwhelming majority in the Egyptian parliament, following the uprising that toppled Mubarak, which was also followed by acts of violence against local Coptic Christians, one of the oldest religious minorities in the country. The continuing unrest in the country has also been troubling observers.
The WEA has been "carefully monitoring the situation in Egypt" and interacting with key national leaders through the past year to help determine how the global church might best respond to "this dynamic and quickly changing situation."
Egyptian Christian leaders will provide an analysis of their current reality during the summit, the groupsaid in a statement. But another key purpose of the event is for Christian organizations and churches in the United States to brainstorm on how best to partner with the Church in Egypt at this "critical time of transition," WEA said.
The organization has asked the international Christian community to pray with Christians of Egypt "for a peaceful transition within the country and for cooperation among all other parties in order to achieve equality, freedom and justice in the nation." The WEA is "calling on our global community to stand in united prayer with our sisters and brothers in Egypt at this crucial time in Egypt's history," WEA Secretary General Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe said.
Coptic Christians constitute nine percent of the population -- which is mostly Sunni Muslim -- and they have been existing in Egypt for close to 2,000 years. But following the Egypt uprising, the community has been faced with persecution. On May 8, Egyptians gathered next to a building that belonged to Christians and set it on fire during clashes between Muslims and Christians in the Imbaba neighborhood of Cairo, as reported by ABC. The violence reportedly killed 12 and injured more than 200.
Then, on Oct. 9, Christians and secular activists alike gathered in Cairo to protest the burning of a Coptic church in Southern Aswan, which took place on Sept. 30. The protests proved to be one of the most violent clashes between the military and civilians since the Arab Spring uprisings began, according to reports. Soldiers allegedly brutalized protesters, killing 27, driving tanks into crowds and, as some reports claim, firing live ammunition into the crowds. About 300 people were also reportedly injured during the melee.