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Egyptian Christian arrested over ‘blasphemous’ Facebook post

Fady Youssef Todary needs your prayers. Fady is a Christian who was recently arrested over an alleged blasphemous Facebook post – that he says he didn’t even write. That didn’t stop an angry mob attacking his home in Ashnin El-Nasara, Egypt.

Fady's home after the attack. Image credit: Wataninet.com

Hacking is an issue across the world, but it is increasingly being used for a specific form of persecution in Egypt. Fady believes his account was hacked, and Open Doors’ Middle East director has identified social media hacking as part of a growing and well-financed trend to harm Christians in the country: “My local sources told me about other cases too, and several cases have been reported publicly. It seems to be yet a new tactic by the extremist Salafist groups.

“This is a targeted strategy to damage Christianity in Egypt. A strategy of a group that has money available to employ hackers.”

“I feared they would kill my family”

Fady apologised for what had been posted on his page, even though he wasn’t responsible. But an event to punish him was organised via Facebook. Muslims from all over the area promised to join in. 

Fady’s sister, Nermin, was there when the mob began. “I went out to see what was going on,” Nermin said. “I saw hundreds of people carrying clubs and stones. They were chanting ‘Allah Akbar’ (God is great) and shouting hostile slogans about Christianity.”

Nermin rushed into her house and locked the door. The attackers threw stones and bricks at her closed door before marching towards her parent’s house down the road: “I feared they would kill them,” Nermin said.

Praise God, Fady and his parents weren’t home at the time of the attack; they were hiding in a relative’s house. 

The attackers entered the home and destroyed everything inside. “They destroyed windows, furniture, electric appliances and utilities and they slashed the mattresses with knives,” Nermin said “They also destroyed our uncle’s home next door.”

The police arrived and arrested some of the attackers. A few days later, Fady was arrested too, along with two of his uncles and his 19-year-old brother.

“Jesus taught us to love all people”

Father Soliman, priest at the church of Ashnin El-Nasara, knows Fady well. “He is a peaceful person and he would never post something negative about Islam. But there are people whose aim it is to fire up conflict between Christians and Muslims in this country.

“Most of the Muslims and Christians here are simple people. We love each other. I can’t speak for the Muslims here, but for my Christian community I can say that we respect all religions. We disapprove of insulting Muslims. Jesus clearly taught us to love all people.”

Some of the attackers and Fady’s relatives have been released already. Fady is still waiting to be sentenced for his alleged blasphemy.

A growing trend of persecution

This is not the first time that a Christian has been imprisoned for a Facebook post. Abdo Adel, is currently serving a three-year sentence for a Facebook post comparing Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, with Jesus. 

Egyptian Christians are often victims of social exclusion and face constant discrimination in areas such as justice, education and basic social services. In rural areas, Christian women have been targeted for abduction and forced marriage. Christians from Muslim backgrounds face pressure from their families and communities – they may be beaten or expelled from their homes.

In rural and impoverished areas in particular, radical imams and less tolerant brands of Islam are growing in prominence. Egypt is at number 16 on the World Watch List, and there were dozens of attacks on churches during the reporting period. The government is making efforts to reverse this trend, but it has not been very successful so far. Please continue praying for your Egyptian brothers and sisters.

Through local churches and partners, Open Doors supports the church in Egypt with literacy training, education, advocacy support, medical care and youth, family and women’s ministry.

Please pray

  • For God’s protection for Fady and his family
  • That Fady would not be prosecuted for this alleged blasphemy
  • That Christians under attack in their schools, workplaces and homes would flourish, that others may see Your light and love shining through them.