Washington (BWA)--Leaders of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) are lamenting the continuing unrest in Egypt and are calling on all parties to the conflict for restraint and a cooperative spirit in resolving this crisis. They are calling upon the Egyptian political, religious and civic leaders to make the concessions needed to spark the process leading to a peaceful resolution.
"As part of the Christian family, the BWA is unswerving in its commitment in the cause of human rights and freedom," BWA General Secretary Neville Callam said. "Therefore, we stand in solidarity with those who employ peaceful means to secure respect for these basic human ideals" he said. "As we face mounting uncertainty in Egypt, I join with the European Baptist Federation and Mounir Yacoub, vice president of the Egyptian Baptist Convention, in requesting prayers of Christians around the world.
On January 25, tens of thousands of persons initiated street demonstrations, marches and rallies in Cairo and other cities in Egypt. These followed similar demonstrations that began in Tunisia in December 2010, and have since spread to Yemen in late January.
The demonstrators in all three nations have demanded the resignation of their countries' presidents. Under pressure, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia has since resigned, unlike Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen.
Botros Faltaos, president of the Bible Baptist Denomination, which is based in Alexandria, Egypt's second largest city, informed the BWA that "some Baptist churches in Egypt have been closed since January 25 because of what has been happening. The people and pastors," he said, "are very worried because there is no protection from the government because the government is trying to protect itself."
Faltaos is asking for prayers for a peaceful transition of power to a government "that will help all citizens" and that "will respect people's right to their religious beliefs."
Nabeeh Abassi, former president of the Jordan Baptist Convention, related news "from an evangelical friend in Egypt." The letter to Abassi states that both Christians and Muslims participated in the demonstrations that began on January 25, where large crowds "gathered in Tahrir Square to spark what is now called 'Anger Friday.'
Abassi's source appealed for prayers for Egypt. "We do beg for your continued prayers that God will show mercy on Egypt and grant us stability and peace. There are many safety concerns and there is the possibility that Islamic groups could use this opportunity to establish an Islamic state." But he claimed that "there have been good things that have already resulted from this. There is an unbelievable sense of community among people, regardless of religion."
Travel has been severely curtailed. Hanna Massad, pastor for the Gaza Baptist Church in Palestine, reported that planned travels from Amman, Jordan, back to Gaza, have been disrupted due to the unrest in Egypt. "I got my flight ticket to go to Gaza ...through Cairo, Egypt, but I am not able to travel at this time. The border between Egypt and Gaza has been closed for the last several days because of the problems in Egypt," Hassad reported in an email to the BWA.
"We urge the protesters to ensure that their protest is based on the principle of nonviolence and we expect the Egyptian government to take the necessary, peaceful steps to end the conflict," Callam said. "We expect no less from a country with as long and proud a history as Egypt, which has contributed so much to the cultural heritage of humankind."