News / Africa

For Egypt's Coptic Christians, No Easy Choice

Elizabeth Arrott
CAIRO - Egypt's minorities are looking with wariness at their choices in the second round of the nation's first post-Mubarak presidential election. Coptic Christians are one of those groups.
 
It's not easy being Christian in Egypt, a minority among the Sunni Muslim majority. But some times are worse than others. For Amal Beshara, the first moments of 2011 were as bad as they come.
 
She was at a New Year's church service in Alexandria.  Her husband, Magdi, left a few minutes before the end.  
 
She says she heard the explosion when they were still inside.  Amal asked what happened and was told, "there are bodies scattered everywhere."

Her husband was severely injured, later succumbing to his wounds.  He was one of 23 people killed in the attack.  
 
The government accused Islamic militants of the blast, part of a long line of anti-Christian attacks. Copts blamed the government for not protecting them, some going as far as to say Interior Minister Habib el Adly was involved as part of anti-Islamist machinations.  
 
Amal says she heard el Adly was behind the bombing, but notes the case has still not been solved.  

Within weeks of the blast, a revolution swept that government from office.  But now, a year and half later, Amal is being asked to choose a new president -- either an Islamist or a member of the old government.
 
The Coptic schoolteacher says she is afraid - afraid the old guard candidate will perpetuate the old government's ways, and afraid the Islamists will persecute Christians.
 
The Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi has promised an inclusive Egypt.  The last prime minister under the old guard, Ahmed Shafiq, vows he will boost security.

Amal Beshara's son, Antwan, who held his father as he lay dying, had hoped for a third way.
 
He had wished there would have been a candidate of the revolution, someone with no ties to the past.  He wanted leftist Hamdeen Sabahi, but is resigned to the candidates running.

It is a hard choice, but Antwan, Amal and a majority of Copts are backing Shafiq.  His side may have failed to protect Christians, but for the most part, is not the side doing the attacking.  

Professor Said Sadek of the American University in Cairo says Copts are understandably afraid.
 
“If you have some of those fanatics all the time targeting them, how are you going to protect them? And, we have many experiences in Egypt of minorities leaving the country because of political conditions. Look what happened to the Egyptian Jews,” he said.
 
Sadek says his Coptic friends are weighing if they too will leave.  Not Amal.  Egypt is where her husband is buried.  It is her country.  Despite everything, she wishes it well.  
 
She says regardless of who wins -- "whether it is the old regime or the Islamist" -- she hopes it will be good for Egypt and that there will be peace.

You May Like

Amnesty: EU Failing Migrants, Refugees

Rights group says migrants, refugees subject to detention, extortion, beatings More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deali
X
July 07, 2015 12:02 PM
If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs