Bible Society of Egypt President: Pray for Egypt Amid Protests

(Photo Credit: Middle East Office Coordinator for Presbyterian World Mission / Amgad Beblawi)Protesters gather in the Heliopolis district of Cairo, Egypt outside the presidential palace in a photo posted on the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) website on December 4, 2012.

The President of The Bible Society of Egypt on Tuesday asked for prayers amid protests at the Presidential palace and Tahrir Square over the political direction of the country.

Ramez Atallah, the Society's President, issued the message in an electronic newsletter.

"Egypt has been a Muslim nation for a long time but what is different today is that the Islamist Government is trying to impose a particularly conservative view of Islam on the population in general," he wrote.

The country is at a crossroads after President Mohamed Mursi issued a decree on November 22 that expanded his powers. He has also pushed for a referendum on a new constitution on December 15.

"While this will not, in the first instance, affect the daily lives of Christians, this narrow interpretation of Islam will seriously affect the many millions of Muslims in Egypt who are more moderate and believe that Islam can co-exist within the 21th century world," Atallah wrote.

Atallah said protests last week between protesters and supporters of the government showed that "Egypt is divided between Islamists and the rest of the population."

"Please pray," he wrote. "1. That there will be no violence as people demonstrate both in front of the Presidential palace and in Tahrir Square. 2. That the President and his advisors may be willing to listen to at least some of the demands of the opposition and not only dig in the heels as they have down[sic] for the last ten days."

Attalah said the future of "genuine democratic liberties" in the country was "in serious jeopardy and many Egyptians are both discouraged and angry."

"Isn't it wonderful to know that our citizenship is in heaven and that what we have invested there cannot be affected by anything here," he wrote. "Thanks for your prayers, encouragement and support for us during these challenging days.

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