By BosNewsLife Africa and Middle East Services
CAIRO, EGYPT (BosNewsLife)-- Christian missionaries have warned of more anti-Christian violence in Egypt where Tuesday, January 25, thousands of people participated in anti-government rallies in the biggest challenge to President Hosni Mubarak's rule since coming to power in 1981.
The demonstrations in Cairo and other cities were promoted online by groups saying they speak for young Egyptians frustrated by the kind of poverty and oppression that triggered the popular revolt in Tunisia.
It came shortly after native missionaries in Egypt said they have credible information that terror group Al Qaeda threatens more violence in Egypt, Nigeria and other African countries. These attacks are believed to be aimed at churches. It was not clear Tuesday, January 25, whether militants would use a possible power vacuum amid demonstrations to step up their attacks.
U.S. based Christian Aid Mission (CAM), which supports native missionaries, told BosNewsLife it is collecting emergency funds to help survivors of recent anti-Christian attacks in Egypt and to support "outreach efforts", such as mission work and evangelism.
IMPACT ON CHRISTIANS?
It was not yet known Tuesday, January 25, what impact the demonstrations would have on minority Christians in Egypt, also called Copts, who have complained that the current government has not done enough to protect them.
CAM said in one of the latest incidents this month an off-duty policeman boarded a train and went from car to car shooting those he identified as Christians, killing at least one man and injuring four women.
"We wonder if Christians will continue to be safe riding trains or walking in the streets," an Egyptian Christian leader reportedly said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"But we are happy that God has placed us here, and we believe that He will use this time to bring many souls to Him. We pray that God will touch many hearts with His love, and that the gospel will be known to all Egyptians," the leader added.
MORE RELIEF EXPECTED
CAM said it would step up relief for survivors of these and other incidents, including the New Year's bombing of a church in Alexandria that left over 20 dead and more than 100 others injured.
The group's Africa Director Rae Burnett told BosNewsLife in a statement that the special financial relief fund for suffering Christians was established after local police reportedly attacked a church that the central government had approved for re-construction on November 24.
More than 20 people were blinded, five were killed and scores more injured, in those clashes Christians said. Over two dozen homes in the surrounding Christian neighborhood were reportedly burned to the ground.
"At last report, of the 130 worshipers who were arrested when local police brutally attacked the Christians in November, there is still no word on the 50 that were imprisoned. Many of those being held captive by the police are women and children who had come to the church to attend a worship service," CAM said. "Eye witness reports said the police chanted Islamic war cries as they attacked the Christians and proceeded to demolish the building."
'POLICE ALSO INJURED'
Egyptian officials said however that those detained had sparked riots and that severaL police officers were also injured during the fighting in Giza, near Egypt's pyramids.
Burnett said donations from American Christians will help injured believers who are required to cover their own medical bills at government hospitals and to pay for rebuilding their homes and businesses destroyed during the anti-Christian rioting.
Those who have lost family members also have the additional expense of burying their dead.