“It’s difficult to see at the moment how this is going to play out, to be honest.”
That’s the frank assessment of the situation in Egypt by Anthony Peck, general secretary of the European Baptist Federation, which oversees member unions not only in Europe but also in the Middle East and North Africa.
Peck, who was part of a delegation visiting the Egyptian Baptist Convention some 18 months ago, discusses the crisis – and hope – in Egypt in a new Skype interview with EthicsDaily.com.
EthicsDaily.com asks Peck in the interview what he looks for specifically when he processes news coming out of Egypt.
“First of all, I’m looking for a kind of balanced analysis of the situation,” he says, “and that’s sometimes hard to find.”
For example, when the story broke about this latest round of civil unrest and violence, it was easy to see the situation as a military crackdown on a democratically elected government.
The reality, however, is much more nuanced, Peck says.
“Secondly, obviously, we’re also concerned about the Christian and of course the Baptist communities in Egypt,” he says. “What is their perspective? How are they faring?”
Peck notes that there are 10 million Christians in Egypt out of a population of 82 million. Most of the Christians are Copts.
However, “there is quite a lively evangelical minority of which the Baptists are part,” he says.
Peck shares in the interview that he finally received some personal communication from friends and colleagues in Egypt, including the pastor of First Baptist Church of Cairo.
“I think that the Baptists, the evangelicals and all the Christians feel that the whole situation has been kind of misrepresented,” says Peck, seeking to characterize sentiment coming from those Egyptian quarters.
They feel the Muslim Brotherhood was really working up “a crusade” against Christians, he adds, noting that another evangelical source in Egypt reported that 50 churches have been attacked, with a few burned.
“They are asking for our prayers,” he says. “They are very concerned that the Christians are becoming a kind of scapegoat in the whole situation.”
When asked what’s next, Peck responds: “I think that the churches probably need to position themselves, on the one hand, clearly, against a radical Islamic government.”
“But at the same time,” he says, “they maybe need to say a little bit more about being against violence, wherever it comes from, in all its forms.”
Looking for hope amid the ruin, Peck says he’s received word of Muslims and Christians standing together.
“If there’s any hope for the future, it’s going to be in this kind of grassroots coming together,” he says. “In the end, it’s going to be about power-sharing.”
Watch the interview with Peck at vimeo.com/ethicsdaily/skype-tonypeck
Learn more about the European Baptist Federation at EBF.org
Learn more about Tony Peck at ebfgensec.blogspot.co.uk
Watch other EthicsDaily.com Skype interviews at vimeo.com/ethicsdaily