ELCA Head Prays for Just Future in Egypt as 'March of Millions' Unfolds

In their biggest demonstration yet against the regime of President Hosni Mubarak, protesters flooded Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday for what is being dubbed as the "march of millions."

The march is expected to be peaceful as protesters continue demanding the resignation of Mubarak after nearly 30 years in power.

"The goal is to oust the regime," Abdel Rahman Fathi, 25, told The Associated Press. "Every day we try to increase the number."

This is the second week of demonstrations against what has been described as a repressive and corrupt regime. Citizens are frustrated with the lack of economic opportunities and violation of basic freedoms under the Mubarak administration.

While protesters are determined to continue their rallies until Mubarak is unseated, some have warned of increased persecution should he actually be driven from power.

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said Egypt's Coptic Christian minority could be endangered. He pointed to Egypt's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, which believes that Islam is a way of life and not just a religion, which could come to power, though some of expressed doubts.

Christians around the world have been praying for the North African country with the latest call coming from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's presiding bishop.

"As the days of civil unrest continue to unfold in Egypt, I call upon the members of our church to pray for an end to the violence and for a peaceful solution that will benefit all people living in Egypt," said the Rev. Mark S. Hanson on Monday.

"Let us also pray and work for the flourishing of all human communities and a just future for those living in Egypt."

The presiding bishop pointed to his denomination's own social statement on peace, quoting: "We expect governments to be accountable to law and people, provide for the participation of all and space for loyal opposition, protect individual and minority rights, and offer processes for conflicts to be resolved without war."

Hanson reported that there are currently 10 ELCA missionaries still in Cairo but at a safe location. The church is working with the U.S. State Department and exploring other options to help the missionaries leave the country temporarily during these weeks of unrest.

According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, up to 300 people have been killed during the protests. For Tuesday's massive march, the army vowed the night before that it would not fire on protesters. Organizers are anticipating the participation of a million people.

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