(Photo: Flickr / Talk Radio News Service)
Open Doors USA is starting a campaign asking for $430,000 in emergency aid for suffering Egyptian Christians who in recent weeks have been heavily targeted by Islamists, who have murdered believers and burned down churches, schools and orphanages.
"The attacks intensified two weeks ago when most of the persecution of Christians (occurred) - they are being blamed by the Muslim Brotherhood for ousting President Morsi. We saw Christian killed – they have been targeted by Muslim Brotherhood fanatics, and they've been caught in the middle, as it usually happens in many cases when Christians are minorities in Middle Eastern countries," Open Doors USA Media Relations Director Jerry Dykstra said in a phone interview with The Christian Post on Friday.
The persecution watchdog group says that in the last two weeks, there have been reports of seven Christians murdered and 17 others kidnapped, while hundreds have been injured in clashes with supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi. Another 212 privately-owned Christian shops and homes and 95 church buildings have also been attacked, as well as Christian orphanages, schools and Bible book stores.
Egypt has been ranked 25th on Open Doors' 2013 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians.
With that in mind, the group has launched a campaign hoping to raise $430,000 in donations that will go directly to the Christians in need of help in the North African country.
"We want to make sure the relief gets to the people that need it the most," Dykstra told CP.
Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. David Curry added in a press release that Christians in the West need to understand that the "rampage" against other followers of Christ is both targeted and intentional.
"Unless we pray, advocate and support those faithful believers who are under attack, the persecution will continue and perhaps widen. Please consider how you might support our brothers and sisters in Christ," Curry added.
Dykstra noted that there has been some good news for Christians in the region as in the last few days government forces have been taking back control of some key areas around Egypt and seem to be better prepared to deal with protests.
"The government is cracking down and preparing for it," Dykstra continued. "The government has closed down many of the protest sites at bigger cities like Cairo and Alexandria. They are more prepared to cope with some of the anticipated protests."
Earlier in August, the American Center for Law and Justice started a petition calling on President Barack Obama to make sure that foreign aid sent to Egypt, which amounts to close to $1.3 billion a year, comes with the condition that Christians receive government protection and that the Egyptian military steps in to stop the attacks against them. The petition has currently been signed by over 77,000 people.
An unnamed Christian leader in Egypt shared with Open Doors: "What can Christians do? Although the fight seems to be between groups of people, it is clearly a spiritual war. It is written in Ephesians 6:12 that '....our struggle is not against flesh and blood....' Therefore to win the war, believers need to use the right weapons. Egyptian Christians are appealing to people around the world to pray and fast with them."
The Christian leader asked believers to pray for an end to the current violence, for the police and army to be able to control the situation and bring order back to the streets of Egypt, and for Christians "to love, forgive and rebuild their country, churches, homes and businesses."