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From The Barnabas Fund:

As Egypt descends into deeper unrest … the country’s Christians are falling victim to the chaos as their shops are looted and essential supplies start to run out.

The majority of Egyptian Christians already live in extreme poverty, and as the demonstrations paralyse daily life, their struggle to make ends meet has become harder. While many shops are being attacked and looted, Christian shops have been particularly targeted.

Christian gatherings and church meetings have been cancelled, while some church minsters are sleeping in their church buildings to protect them from attack. A Barnabas Fund contact said that believers were staying in their homes, where they are “praying hard” and “trusting God” amid the tumult.

Egypt’s Christian community was already feeling under threat following targeted attacks, most notably the suicide bombing at a church in Alexandria on New Year’s Day that killed at least 21 worshippers. Now they find themselves caught up in an escalating political crisis that could have worrying implications for their future.

Though the unrest is essentially fuelled by economic, social and political grievances, there are growing fears that radical Islamists may capitalise on it to seize power. The Muslim Brotherhood, which is backing influential opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, is the only large, organised opposition group.

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton warned this weekend that Egypt’s ancient Christian minority could become increasingly endangered should President Hosni Mubarak be ousted:

“It is really legitimate for the (Christians) to be worried that instability (will) follow Mubarak’s fall and his replacement with the Muslim Brotherhood.”

In addition to the targeted, violent attacks, Egyptian Christians face discrimination in many areas of life, such as in education and employment. Conditions for them would only worsen under an Islamic regime.

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