If this were so, the uprisings would indeed be good news for the Christians of these nations. For years they have suffered discrimination in many areas of life, restrictions on their freedoms by the authorities, and outright violence from the Muslim majorities. If the twilight of the old regimes really did herald the dawn of freedom, Christians could hope at last to take their place as equal members of society and to practise and share their faith in peace and safety.
Sadly, however, the widespread positive response to recent events in misplaced, even naïve. North African and Middle Eastern concepts of freedom and democracy, shaped by centuries of Islamic domination, are simply not the same as Western ones. So, for example, when political leaders commit themselves to “support freedom,” they do not intend to include religious freedom in this, and their Muslim audiences do not understand them to do so.
Nor can religion be separated from politics in any Muslim context, where the two are inseparably connected. For most of the people involved in them, the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings are not “secular” revolutions; they are profoundly religious events, waiting to be led by the strongest religious players.
The best organised and funded groups among the rebels in Tunisia and Egypt are the Islamist movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, who are aiming to play a leading role in the future government of their countries. There is already significant evidence of their growing influence in the post-revolutionary fervour:
The outcome of recent events in North Africa and the Middle East is impossible to predict with confidence at this stage. But the essentially religious character of political events in Tunisia and Egypt, and the presence there of powerful Islamist groups, raises grave concerns for the future of Christian communities in those countries. If Islamism does seize control of the various revolutions, whether slowly or suddenly, it will impose a much stricter Islamic character on politics and society, threatening the very survival of Christianity across the region.
Please pray that the Arab spring does not become a Christian autumn.
Source: Barnabus Fund