On January 5, an Egyptian Muslim cleric named Sheikh Sayed Askar witnessed a terrorist planting bombs on the roof of the Virgin Mary and Father Seifin Church in Nasr City, near Cairo, Egypt.
The terrorist planned to detonate the bombs during the church’s orthodox Christmas Eve service on January 6. Hundreds of Christians flock to this Christmas Eve service every year to celebrate their Savior.
After Sheikh Askar alerted the police, the government responded to the Imam’s observation and immediately dispatched a specialized bomb squad to defuse the bombs. The squad located three bombs on the roof of the church, International Christian Concern reported.
Tragically, while the officers were attempting to defuse the bombs, one detonated. An officer, Major Mustafa Abid, lost his life. Three other nearby individuals, including General Nasar Mansour, were seriously injured.
Askar’s actions foiled this terrorist plot yet ultimately endangered his own life in Egypt – a country still teeming with radical Islamist violence today.
The actions of Major Abid, General Mansour, the other members of the Nasr City bomb squad, as well as Imam Askar, give us such an opportunity. If they had not moved quickly, the roof of the church would surely have collapsed from the force of the explosion, resulting in a massive number of deaths of Christians at the church and Muslims attending the mosque next door.
Egyptian Christians are frequently targeted by Islamic extremists, who especially go out of their way to target Christians during religious holidays. Egypt ranks as a Tier 2 Country by the United States Commission on Religious Freedom. Egyptian Christians are regarded as second class citizens and face daily harassment and discrimination. Targeted violence is a daily threat in their lives.
Egypt ranks 16th on Christian support organization Open Doors 2019 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.