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Current Events

The Immigration of Roots

Over the past several years, and increasingly over the past several months, Iraq has nearly been emptied of its historical Christian population. This short film by the newspaper al-Badeel explores how Egyptian Christians contemplate the issue of immigration. It is subtitled in English, and provides a very good overview of how many Copts view the subject.

Egypt, of course, has not faced nearly the same level of chaos and disintegration as Iraq. But the film is full of images of burned churches that remind of the difficulty the nation has endured. Egypt also comprises a far higher population – both overall and of Christian citizens – which make it better able to withstand a gradual emigration which has resulted in Coptic Orthodox churches the world over.

But emigration takes its toll, usually robbing a nation of its best and its brightest who can afford to move overseas and stand a decent chance at finding work. This theme is stated often by those interviewed, while the theme of religious persecution is generally nuanced though it lingers.

Have sympathy, and enjoy the window into a slice of Coptic consciousness. Alas.

 

Categories
Current Events

Emigration at Easter: Fight, Flight, and Resignation

From my latest article in Egypt Source, culling attitudes on emigration from a recent trip to Upper Egypt:

Sara Shuhdi
Sara Shuhdi

“I have nightmares every couple of days,” said Sara Shuhdi, a 23 year old assistant professor of analytical chemistry at the German University of Cairo. “I don’t see a bright future for Egypt; maybe it would be better for me if I left.”

Fifty-five days of fasting concluded on Coptic Easter, celebrated this year on May 5 according to the eastern calendar. Always a period of reflection and joy for Egyptian Christians, this year the community is deeper in the former and subdued in the latter.

Here are the photos of each person sharing, with a quote from each:

Fr. Seraphim, an Orthodox priest in Dayrut
Fr. Seraphim, an Orthodox priest in Dayrut

“Of course we must stay here,” he said. “Our history, family, and churches are here – we cannot leave Egypt.”

Emad Awny, a businessman in Asyut
Emad Awny, a businessman in Asyut

“The civil current – Muslims and Christians together – must provide a different way of thought and raise consciousness through business,” he said, “especially in poorer areas susceptible to extremism and ignorance.”

Fr. Kyrillos, an Orthodox priest in Saragna
Fr. Kyrillos, an Orthodox priest in Saragna

“Twenty years ago, I tried to convince Copts not to emigrate, but now because of the bad economy I bless them if they want to go.”

Bishop Thomas of Qussia
Bishop Thomas of Qussia

“I raised people here, trained them, and watched them grow and become productive members of society,” he said. “And then they leave? It is sad.

“I can’t prevent them but I encourage them to stay. I try to speak to their conscience to make their land a better place. Why would someone leave their home and become a foreigner forever?”

The article concludes with a stinging quote by Bishop Thomas for the conscience of humanity; please click here to read the whole article at Egypt Source.