On Monday, August 26, Stoyan Zaimov of The Christian Post reported that an online petition created by The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is asking President Barack Obama to do more to ensure the safety of Christians in Egypt.
According to Zaimov, "More than 70,000 people have signed a petition calling on Obama to make sure that foreign aid given to Egypt comes with the condition that Christians are protected from the violence they have suffered at the hands of Muslim Brotherhood-backed Islamists."
As of Tuesday, August 27 at 3:40 p.m.Pacific Standard Time, a little over 74,000 people had signed the petition online and 7,288 people had liked it on Facebook.
The petition reads, in part, "Dear President Obama: It's time to take sides – for religious freedom and against the Muslim Brotherhood. Comply with human rights requirements. American aid must be conditioned on the protection of Christians, and it must be used to oppose our jihadist enemy, the Muslim Brotherhood."
Zaimov added that Jay Sekulow of ACLJ said atrocities committed against Egyptian Christians, such as 70 churches being burned throughout the country, have been allowed to happen because the United States is not doing enough to protect them.
"There have been several reports of burned down churches, monasteries and Christian schools, as well as of Christians who have been killed at the hands of Islamists accusing them of playing a role in the protests that lead to the ousting of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi," Zaimov said.
Egypt is not the only Middle Eastern country where Christians are being persecuted. There have been reports of violence and oppression from countries such as Syria, Iraq and Iran as well.
An article published in the Scottish Catholic Observer on Tuesday, August 27, reported that Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï, the leader of the Maronite Catholic Church, has said that Christians throughout the Middle East are suffering the most from the ongoing conflicts in countries such as Egypt and Syria.
According to a staff reporter, "... Raï said that the situation in the Middle East is worsening, and that 'whenever a conflict breaks out in the Middle East, whenever chaos ensues, Muslim groups attack the minority Christian community, as if they were always the scapegoat.'
"The patriarch, whose church is in full communion with the Vatican, said Christians were 'paying the price' of outside interference in both Egypt and Syria.
"... He also accused the international community of 'total silence' over Iraq, where he said 1.5 million Christians had fled in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s fall."
The Scottish Catholic Observer added that Lord Sachs, the outgoing Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community in the United Kingdom, also recently spoke about the persecution of Christians in Middle Eastern countries.
"'I think this is a human tragedy that is going almost unremarked. I don’t know what the name for this is, it is the religious equivalent of ethnic cleansing,' [Sachs] said. 'We are seeing Christians in Syria in great danger, we are seeing the burning of Coptic churches in Egypt. There is a large Coptic population in Egypt and for some years now it has been living in fear. Two years ago the last church in Afghanistan was destroyed, certainly closed. There are no churches left in Afghanistan.'
"'... At the beginning of the 19th century Christians represented 20 percent of the population of the Arab world, today two percent."
On Monday, August 26, David Virtue of VirtueOnline quoted a report by the Pew Research Center that said Christians now make up five percent of the Middle East's population. Whether Lord Sachs or the Pew Research Center has the more accurate numbers, this is still a disturbing trend for Christians in the region.
Virtue went on to blame the violence against Christians on the Muslim Brotherhood.
According to Virtue, "In Egypt, 10 percent of Egypt's 85 million people are Christian, mostly Coptic. They have been under siege. Christians are being killed and churches torched by an angry, militant [Muslim] Brotherhood that is now against the ropes with their leader President Morsi disgraced and out of power. Christians in Egypt has not seen the like of this in hundreds of years."
Virtue added that the persecution of Egyptian Coptic Christians is nothing new.
"Egyptian Coptics, who sought work in neighboring Libya and have fared well in the chaos that has reined in that country since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, were shocked in December 2012 by the bombing of a church in Misrata, Libya. That attack has stoked fears that Libyan Islamists are growing in power and more such attacks against Christians are in store. The uprising in Syria by armed militia has seen the destruction of entire Christian villages. About 300,000 Christian Syrians have already fled the country and are refugees."
It will be interesting to see if the ACLJ petition has any impact on the Obama administration and the president's position on Egypt in the weeks ahead.