A delegation of evangelical leaders from the US has met with Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the presidential palace in Cairo.
Among them was Family Research Council president and Baptist pastor Tony Perkins, who told the Christian Post: ‘I appreciate the opportunity to meet with President el-Sisi to discuss the concerns we have, as American evangelicals, for the plight of religious minorities in Egypt, especially those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ.’
Others present were religious freedom advocate and informal Trump administration adviser Johnnie Moore, evangelical writer Joel Rosenberg, Egyptian-born Christian pastor and author Michael Youssef, and former Republican presidential candidate and former US Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
The meeting was also attended by Rev Andrea Zaki, the leader of the Protestant community in Egypt and organised by Rosenberg, who is based in Jerusalem and met Sisi when he traveled to Washington for a state visit in April.
He told the Christian Post: ‘I was going to say they rolled out the red carpet for us but I don’t want to leave the impression that we are being treated like royalty. What they are doing is that it has become clear that they want a friendship, they want a relationship with evangelicals.
‘We can speculate as to why. But the fact is, we were supposed to spend an hour with the president and it was almost three.’
He said that while Christians still faced persecution in Egypt, Sisi was ‘trying to change the system’.
‘As we asked about these issues, he said, “Christians are being attacked and we are working to fight the very radical Islamist terrorists that are endangering Muslims as well as Christians. But we are also doing very specific things to help Christians to make them equal Egyptians. They are not second-class citizens. We don’t want to think of them as Christians or Muslims. We want to think of them as Egyptians,”‘ Rosenberg said.
Moore described Sisi as ‘a great, great leader’, recalling his commitment to rebuilding churches burned in 2013.
‘He rebuilt the churches. He told us yesterday that will never happen again. It will never happen again. As long as he is in charge, that will never happen again.’
On Wednesday the delegation met with around 60 senior Egyptian Christian leaders who also expressed their admiration for el-Sisi.
‘They didn’t hesitate,’ said Rosenberg. ‘We are talking about a man who rescuing the country … and their lives and freedoms have been saved.’