7-Minute Briefing: Freedoms remain elusive for Middle East Christians, women and the press

Freedom and security seem ever more elusive in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). This month, we bring you various reports on religious freedom, women’s rights and press freedom, as well as more hopeful news from Syria.

The Church across the MENA faces a host of new and existing challenges to its freedom. In rural Egypt last month, the construction of a new evangelical church has sparked hostilities against local Christians, including homes being set on fire and attacked with stones. In Algeria, most Protestant churches remain closed after being forcibly shut by the government in 2017. Concerns are also growing for religious freedom in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and northern Yemen, where Christian minorities are under increased persecution. And in Gaza, International Christian Concern have reported that up to three quarters of the already-tiny Christian community have either left or are planning to leave the enclave.

Here at SAT-7, we long for freedom in the MENA – where our brothers and sisters in the MENA can worship together without danger or restrictions, where women are treated as equals, and where journalists are free to report in safety. But while that day remains elusive, our channels continue to broadcast powerful programmes that hold out the certain hope of freedom in Christ.

And in a story of resilience, we celebrate the news that church bells will ring out again in Raqqa, Syria. “The fact that people can once again rebuild their churches and ring their bells is a sign of hope to a place that has suffered so much,” says George Makeen, SAT-7’s Ministry Content Adviser. “SAT-7 is aware of the good work churches are doing in Syria – the spirit of unity is growing.” Let’s continue to pray for freedom, unity and resilience for the Church across the MENA.

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