In a controversial move, Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi recently ordered verses from the Quran and Islamic Hadith be removed from all school textbooks, with the exception of Islamic religion textbooks.
President Sisi believes that the removal of these verses will combat the extremism behind the deadly attacks across the country that have increased in recent years, as militants often use verses from the Quran to justify their attacks. To further crack down on extremism, Sisi has increased control over mosques, appointing inspectors to check mosque libraries to ensure that no radical books or tapes are shelved there.
The decision is met with mixed reactions. Conservative Muslims are angered to varying degrees. Some merely feel that education will suffer with the removal of Quranic verses, while activists are interpreting Sisi’s actions as waging war against Islam and are concerned about a possible door being opened to build churches in the country.
Some Egyptian secularists and lawmakers support the decision and are calling for elimination of religious education and religious schools. These are in the minority, however, and this is not likely to happen in the near future.
What does this mean for Christians? Believers in Egypt have enjoyed more freedom since Sisi took power from the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, as he’s been actively determined to extinguish radical extremism. This latest educational reform definitely seems promising. The Egyptian Ministry of Education has publicly stated their intention to include Christian history in the reformed curricula. It’s a step in the right direction, where they’re further expressing interest in sharing “all heavenly religions” with students of all backgrounds.
If we look at the big picture, remembering that our battle is not against flesh and blood but the powers and principalities over nations and regions of the earth, the Kingdom of God is advancing in Egypt. Something has clearly been displaced in the heavenlies to get to a point where the country’s educational system is being reformed to include Christian history. Ultimately, we will see the dark forces of Islam exposed and defeated.
As we continue to watch this amazing story unfold, please pray for the Back to Jerusalem missionaries who are faithfully serving on the front lines in Egypt. In the end, we know who wins!