[Anglican Communion News Service] An Anglican priest and his family narrowly escaped harm the morning of Aug. 14 after a mob armed with rocks and petrol bombs were kept out of a church building by steel window bars.
The Rev. Ehab Ayoub, his family, a lay minister and a guard were trapped in St. Saviour’s Church, Suez, for hours while pro- Mohamed Mursi supporters were attacking the building.
Speaking from the Diocese of Egypt’s head office, the Rev. Drew Schmotzer, bishop’s chaplain, told ACNS, “They [the attackers] tried to get through the windows, but our steel bars prevented it, thanks be to God.
“Eventually, the army came with tanks and personnel and after a long morning, the family are now out of the church and in a safe place.”
The attack on the church came to light after the Most. Rev. Mouneer Anis, bishop of Egypt and president bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, posted an appeal for prayer on the diocesan website.
“As I write these words, our St. Saviour’s Anglican Church in Suez is under heavy attack from those who support former President Mursi,” he wrote. “They…have destroyed the car of Rev. Ehab Ayoub, the priest-in-charge of St. Saviour’s Church.
“I am also aware that there are attacks on other Orthodox churches in Menyia and Suhag in Upper Egypt, as well as a Catholic church in Suez. Some police stations are also under attack in different parts of Egypt. Please pray and ask others to pray for this inflammable situation in Egypt.”
The attack on the churches are part of a deteriorating situation in the country that has prompted the presidency to declare a state of emergency. Several people have died in the clashes including, according to reports, the 17-year-old daughter of leading Muslim Brotherhood figure Mohamed el-Beltagy. Two news reporters, Habiba Ahmed Abd Elaziz and Mick Deane, were also killed.
Last week a 10-year-old Christian girl was shot dead on the way home from church. The growing threat to Christians of all denominations in the country is causing concern not only in Egypt but also around the world. Recently, General Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the U.K. released a statement in which he called for urgent action to protect Christians in Egypt.
Schmotzer echoed Anis’s call for Christians everywhere to remember the situation in Egypt at this time: “We don’t know what will happen to the [St. Saviour’s] church, and we don’t know what will happen here in Egypt as in many places there is violence. Please continue to pray!”