The Price of Freedom in Egypt

Ramez Atallah is the General Director of the Bible Society of Egypt. This update from Cairo is a reminder that there are not unambiguous events in this fallen world. Things cut both ways. Reading this careful assessment from the inside, makes me all the more thankful that Ramez will be one of our speakers at the Desiring God Conference for Pastors next February. Read, learn, and pray:

June 15, 2011

Dear friends,

When a million ordinary and non-violent Egyptians from all walks of life camped for 18 days in Liberation Square, the world was mesmerized by their remarkable and unprecedented show of courage and willingness to suffer for the human rights of all Egyptians.

Yet none of those who were in Liberation Square could have imagined that their defiance would not only result in undermining most authority in the country, but would also pave the way for radical Muslim groups to begin restricting true freedom and equality for all Egyptians.

Breakdown of Authority

If you challenge the President and win, you no longer fear any authority. One logical—yet unintended—result of this successful show of defiance is that nearly every sector of society is now challenging those in authority above them. . .

  • Students challenge their teachers or educational administrators

  • Employees challenge their bosses

  • Ordinary citizens challenge civil authorities

  • There is little respect for the police

  • Even the respected and formerly- feared Army is now being challenged

The many acts of violence, burning of churches, shops, and factories—not to mention the spate of kidnappings for ransom and increased petty theft—are partly the result of a misunderstanding of freedom and a lack of fear towards anyone to whom these people could be held accountable!

A sad example of this is when criminals are arrested to await trial, their friends and relatives come in the hundreds, storm the jail, overcome the police, and free the prisoners. In the past, respect—or fear—of the police’s authority would have made such acts inconceivable. Now, they are frequent occurrences. Another example is that the two men who plotted to assassinate President Sadat in 1981 have been released from jail and are now popular talk show guests!

Potential Takeover by Muslim Brotherhood

Another unintended result of the Revolution has been the paving of the way for the new Parliament to be overtaken by the well-organized Muslim Brotherhood. Having officially renounced violence many years ago, this group will protect Christians from the violent attacks we have been experiencing lately. But in establishing an Islamic state, they will undoubtedly seriously curtail what Christians can do outside their houses of worship. Undoubtedly they also will allow even less freedom than was previously available for Muslims to have religious freedom of choice.

"Christian" Rights or "Human" Rights

Many human rights groups in the West are speaking out on behalf of Christians and their security in Egypt. We are grateful for their concern, but I firmly believe that the possible establishment of an Islamic state in Egypt would most greatly affect moderate Muslims (especially women). It is their freedoms and lifestyles (dress, customs, freedom of expression etc.) that would be most restricted. Who is speaking on their behalf?

It would be much better for us if the media and human rights groups were to boldly speak up for genuine freedom of choice for all Egyptians. This would also radically reduce resentment felt against Christians when outside groups speak up on our behalf. . . .

For progress updates on our Rebuild Egypt Campaign, please click here: http://www.rebuildegypt.tenbibles.com/

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CIRCULATE THIS LETTER THROUGH ALL MEANS AND TO ANY PERSONS OR GROUPS YOU THINK WOULD BE INTERESTED.  MANY THANKS.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.