"One of the churches resumed praying in the midst of the rubble," says Egyptian-born Christian physician Hany Guirgis, who now lives in Edmonton. "They raised a banner saying, 'To those who burned our church, we forgive you.' It's amazing."
The attacks began on August 14 following the military's violent dispersal of Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins in Cairo over Morsi's ouster six weeks earlier. The protestors turned against the Christians, who they accused of taking part in his overthrow.
Human Rights Watch reported on August 23 that at least 42 churches had been attacked. Most were looted and set on fire. Also caught up in the rampage were Christian-owned homes and businesses, schools, a nunnery, an orphanage, the YMCA, and two Egyptian Bible Society bookstores. At least three Coptic Christians and one Muslim were killed.
"It's certainly the worst persecution and attacks that we've seen in centuries in Egypt," says Greg Musselman, vice-president of outreach with Voice of the Martyrs Canada.
"It's not surprising. We've seen a buildup of this anti-Christian sentiment amongst militant Muslims especially since 9/11. Things are just becoming more and more difficult for Christians in the Middle East."
But many are vowing to stand their ground. Bible Society general secretary Ramez Atallah says this was the first attack they have suffered in 129 years of serving in Egypt—and they will not be intimidated.
"As soon as things settle down a little bit we're going to start the renovation [of our stores]," he told CBN News. "We're not going to let someone stop us from getting the Bible out."
By late August, there were signs that the Islamists had failed in their bid to scapegoat Christians for their loss of power. "What's been heartwarming," says Musselman, "are stories of Muslims helping to put out fires and helping their neighbours."
Still, Guirgis warns that Christians will remain at risk until Egypt's decision-makers root out the hateful Islamist propaganda that the Brotherhood had been allowed to inject into the schools and the media since the 1980s.
"If they are people of human rights and of tolerance, and start to correct the mistakes of the last 30 years with a radical and enlightened approach, there will be hope," he says. "If they do not, we will go through the same situation again and again."
But Musselman also finds hope in the bigger picture.
"You've got this terrible destruction taking place, Christians being murdered and kidnapped and tortured, but you've also got [by one estimate] more Muslims coming to Christ in the last 10 years than in the previous 1,400 years of Islam," he says.
"It does show that God is on the move in the midst of all the chaos and war."