This week has suddenly reminded us that chaos and turmoil are only a breath away in a large part of the world. It is uncomfortable to think about, but that does not make it any less true. Cairo is deeply troubled; the number of people killed is rising on a daily basis; the number of injured is increasing even more quickly; and the force of the government is being used to try and restore the power of a dictatorship.
I like to believe we live in a black and white world, but it is becoming increasingly gray. Right and wrong have not changed. What have changed are our choices. For years we have supported the current regime in Egypt with billions of dollars and favored status. And that has probably been the right thing to do. After all, this regime has kept some semblance of stability in the region. Egypt has been a place of moderation which has tolerated and at times even protected the rights of Christians in a Muslim world that has been all too willing to intimidate and harm the Church.
What we are seeing right now is a protest that likely began with real people looking to resolve their real problems. Unemployment is high and life is hard. What will likely happen over time is that others, folks with a longer viewed political aim, will join the protest and make it more about regime change. Unfortunately, that will likely mean that we will see a more Islamic Government that has an increased hostility to Christianity and a strong Coptic Church that already has a foothold in Egypt.
The most troubling aspect is the loss of freedom of speech and religious freedom that will come. Christianity brings with it more open forms of government for the most part. Western culture has many freedoms that are the envy of the world because of the value a Christian worldview places on freedom for individuals and organizations. The Islamic world is much more closed to the same freedoms. We see this in Europe where Islamic communities, even fairly moderate communities, have zero tolerance for any questioning of their faith.
The Internet has been shut down in Egypt, telephone service interrupted. This means that all speech is being punished because it is feared from the government. This is a time when a balance is needed to make sure Egyptians do not lose their right to communicate their hopes and fears.
At the same time, allowing extreme measures in times of crisis might well keep the crisis from getting out of hand. This is the gray area that makes it more difficult to say one decision is clearly better than the other.
In the midst of all the confusion and chaos that is going on in Egypt Christians are being killed and harmed. We have to pray for our brothers and sisters in Egypt that they will find safety without having to leave the country and surrender their calling for the sake of their personal safety.
After these protests are over Egypt will need the voice of dedicated Christians to help them continue toward a more free society.