During last week's Muslim holidays, Coptic Christians in Egypt experienced a surge in persecution at the hands of Islamic hardliners.
The Islamic holiday Eid al-Adha ("Festival of Sacrifice") began on Tuesday, August 21, and ended on Friday, August 24. According to International Christian Concern, Coptic Christians in Upper Egypt were targeted in four attacks from August 22-25. The attacks on churches included mob protests, verbal insults by a policeman, and an attempted suicide attack that was thwarted. ICC's Claire Evans believes these attacks are not coincidental as it's commonplace – not only in Egypt, but throughout the Middle East – for Christians to be targeted during religious holidays.
"This year there was an overlap between a Christian and Islamic holiday," she explains. "So unfortunately it was the circumstances which normally do encourage those attacks. It was even doubled more than what it normally is – and Christians paid the cost for that."
Evans tells OneNewsNow there's a disconnect between what is being said on the national level and what's being practiced on the local level.
"President [Abdel Fattah el-] Sisi ... makes big, grand overtures saying 'We're promoting religious freedom, we're going to legalize churches, we're going to make all these changes and they're going to help Coptic Christians' – but those overtures never trickle down onto a local level," she laments.
Local government officials want to see Christians further repressed, according to Evans. She is urging the national government to demand local authorities enforce the protection of religious freedom.