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The Egyptian-Canadian Surgeon Going Home to Serve the Poor

Dr. Sherif Hanna
Dr. Sherif Hanna

From my new article in Lapido Media:

A new collaboration – in an old mission hospital – will train Egyptian surgeons to serve in rural settings.

Sixty per cent of Egyptian doctors work abroad – but a unique collaboration will fight this trend.

Incredibly perhaps, Egyptian Christian Dr Hanna Sherif is relocating from an élite life in Toronto, Canada to the small village of Menouf in the Nile Delta for the next five years, in defiance of a US State Department warning of ‘risks of travel’.

An acclaimed liver surgeon and academic, Sherif is returning to his country of birth after a forty three year absence to run a new in-country surgical training programme…

Here is a brief excerpt about what he will do, and the motivation thereof:

Harpur’s resident trainees will benefit from 10-15 visiting surgeons each year, and will spend six months of their programme in large hospitals in Kenya, Cameroon, and South Africa.

In exchange the residents will work at least one year in the handful of PAACS-accredited Christian hospitals in Egypt for every year they are financially supported.

Rural hospitals, including old mission hospitals, are often not well equipped and generally pay low salaries, said Hanna. As such they fail to attract well-trained surgeons.

In addition, Dr Amr al-Shoury, a leading figure in the ongoing partial doctors’ strike in Egypt, the government system pays abysmally poor wages to medical professionals.

He told Ahram Online this drives 60 per cent of doctors abroad.

Thompson believes maintaining the standards of care for the poor under these circumstances in the least attractive districts requires a special commitment.

‘Christian hospitals will go out of business if they cannot hire well-trained specialists that are committed to their values,’ said Thompson. ‘Ours is to honour and glorify Christ in his command to care for the sick.’

Please click here to read the full article at Lapido Media.


The Nature of the Insurrection

From McClatchy, an article full of interesting anecdotes on the Islamist youth committing violence in the Nile Delta:

In Sharqia province, which sits just between Cairo and the restive Sinai, eight police officers have been killed in just three weeks, each by a motorcyclist who pulled up to them in traffic and shot them, usually in the head, according to Mohammed el Khatib, the general coordinator of the police union.

This is what makes the news, but testimonies of the youth reveal something a little different:

In December, they tried to set a police officer’s car on fire but were so inexperienced they failed. Then last month, they decided to launch three attacks on the same day, to distract the police from their protests. In addition to setting the police officer’s home ablaze, they planned to bomb a train. But they couldn’t trigger the explosion, so they settled for setting it on fire.

The third attack came when Saleh pointed a gun at nearby residents while his friends set a stationary shop belonging to Mohsen Said Mtwaly, 65, a retired general who’s a supporter of Field Marshall Abdel Fatah el-Sissi, the minister of defense who engineered Morsi’s ouster and now is the presumed front-runner for still-to-be-set presidential elections. A photo of Sissi sits in the store’s display window.

The interviewed youth say they have no share in the killing of officers, and this is what proves their methods as ‘peaceful’.

Interesting also is why they supported the presidency of Morsi, quite opposite from the international rhetoric of the Brotherhood:

The three young men said they first organized during Morsi’s presidency when he called for projects to renew Egypt. They hoped to create an Islamic caliphate, they said. They felt that if Egypt could be ruled by Islamists, then other countries would follow and soon the region would become one big caliphate. But they never got a chance to start their movement.

Debutantes in violence may become more professional, as many of the terrorist attacks in Egypt have proven. More disturbing is this account of local police efforts to stop it:

As he cleaned up the debris three weeks after the attack, Mtwaly was unapologetic about urging residents to reject Morsi’s administration.

“I know the Muslim Brotherhood very well and they have no national agenda,” Mtwaly said. “I used to tell people they are not good for you. They want to steal the country.”

Mtwaly said he backs the police and is confident they will find the men who set fire to his shop, unaware that McClatchy already had tracked them down.


Friday Prayers for Egypt: Terrorist, Bombing

Flag Cross Quran


Surely the two – terrorist and bombing – go together. But who do they go together with?

Fourteen people were killed in Mansoura in the Nile Delta when a bomb ripped through the security directorate. Two days later an apparent homemade bomb exploded on the roadside, injuring five civilians but perhaps also targeting the police. The government responded by officially designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, making criminal a membership in the group, or even marching in their protests.

The Brotherhood has condemned the bombings, and responsibility has been claimed by a jihadist group in the Sinai. The government designation links the two together, as well as with other crimes committed against Egyptian churches, police stations, and citizens. But the prime minister recently stated no designation could come without a court ruling, which has yet to take place – whether in favor or against the accused.

Transparency, God. Whoever is behind the unsettling of Egypt, bring them to justice in the clear sight of all. Perhaps the government acts prematurely because of the severity of the threat. Worse, perhaps the government applies the label to a political enemy taking advantage of the outrage. Worst, as some Islamists imply, the government is responsible for the bombing itself.

Egypt still swims in conspiracy, God, and perhaps she still suffers one. Bring to light what is hidden and build the nation anew. For these deaths and so many previously, hold to account those who are responsible. Rid Egypt of their poison, which kills politics and opposition alike.

God, give wisdom to the Brotherhood. If the label is true then give discernment to their many followers who are likely uninvolved. Lead them to help supply the evidence necessary. But if not true, what should be their response? Currently they pledge continued protests; will this help their cause or sacrifice their supporters? With whatever ideological links exist with those in Sinai, have them do more than just condemn, but pressure for full cessation.

And God, give wisdom to the government. Make their response to terrorism winsome. Help the state to protect the people. If the label is true then give them the evidence necessary to demonstrate their plight. Give them courage to combat an enemy willing to kill and lie for power. But if not true, have mercy on the people from a government willing to manipulate, or worse.

For those in between these parties, God, reconcile. It is never too late, but the stakes are rising. Help words of creative peace to be spoken, and to find ears willing to hear.

God, terrorism and bombings are not of your kingdom, so may they neither hold sway in Egypt. Establish instead truth and justice, for these go together with you.



Friday Prayers for Egypt: Rebellion, Legitimacy and Fire

Flag Cross Quran


Watch over Egypt this weekend. Watch over her in what follows. Keep her future in your hands.

As the Rebellion campaign is in its final preparation hours for anticipated massive June 30 demonstrations at the presidential palace, other forces are also at work. An unrelated protest brought thousands and perhaps tens of thousands to Tahrir Square to demand President Morsi leave.

But pro-Morsi protestors have gathered in the tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands not far from the presidential palace, supporting his right to the remainder of his term. Meanwhile, especially in the Nile Delta, violence has flared as Muslim Brotherhood headquarters have been attacked in multiple cities.

Throughout the nation hundreds have been injured and a few have died. Many fear today was just a dry run, a dress rehearsal for the battle to come.

Each party, God, has pushed forward a D-Day scenario. How is it possible now for the right and the good on all sides to prevail? The president has electoral legitimacy, but from a constitution and post-revolutionary process many view as illegitimate. The opposition has legitimate grievances, but many of their supporters advance them in an illegitimate way. The president’s Islamist supporters claim religious legitimacy, but many speak as if they are fighting illegitimate infidels.

God, is it legitimate to be both sad and hopeful for Egypt? You are putting the nation through a crucible; tried by fire, will only the pure emerge?

May it be so. Fire proves the quality of men’s work. It tests their character and reveals their inner being. God, Egypt is in such great need of this evaluation. Give discernment to the people, and place sovereignty in their hands.

Or, God, is this your other fire? Is it punishment for sins collected, whether over long years or recent months? If so, be merciful. May your hand of judgment fall only on the deserving, and even for them, may it eventually redeem. Spare the innocent, shield the righteous, and aid the poor. Only you know their numbers, God, but do not pour your wrath upon the nation as a whole. She has suffered enough.

But God, perhaps there is no fire at all. Perhaps there is little legitimacy anywhere. Perhaps this is a drama construed simply for reshuffling the chairs of power. But may this not be so. Make life more than theater; honor men and their freedom of action. May manipulations and deception cease in Egypt.

God, bless the president. May he do what is wise and necessary for the peace and prosperity of the nation.




Friday Prayers for Egypt: Police, Protest

Flag Cross Quran


The dynamic is changing in Egypt, but it is happening outside of Cairo. Violence and civil disobedience characterize Delta and Suez Canal cities, while police themselves go on strike throughout the nation. In fact in Port Said they were ordered of the street.

There is little to commend here, God. Surely the grievances are many, and perhaps many are just. But as protestors attack police, the police demand better weapons. Some of the latter protest against ‘Brotherhoodization’ of the police force; others to be allowed to grow their beards.

In much of Egypt life carries on, but it is as if the state is breaking. Why is the presidential palace covered in graffiti? Why are major roads shut down for hours by rowdy youth? Why is the best solution for popular anger against police abuse to stop policing a city entirely?

These are questions for the administration, God, and give them wisdom to handle their many challenges. But the issues are deeper. Egypt was a police state, and the revolution broke it. Perhaps the police are ill equipped to do their job otherwise. Perhaps freedom and human rights have entered the equation, but without experience in balancing with law and order.

If so, God, there are lessons to be learned. May they be learned quickly. Give the Ministry of the Interior a wise and strong figure to reform from within, and facilitate accountability from the outside.

But if not, God, the conspiracies speak. Are the police ignoring the president and working to undermine him? Or have they yielded their old tools to a new regime more than willing to repress? Is the counterrevolution drawing Egypt into more and more chaos to kill revolutionary ideals and garnish popular support for the return of an iron hand? Or is the Islamist idea to secure their project on the ashes of the republican system?

May these be far from the truth, God, however much they are whispered. But fix the country, though only with righteousness. Remove those who retard her, though only with justice.

Give Egypt leaders who can do this; equip the people to ensure it.

God, sponsor their work, and bring it to completion. Keep Egypt safe, secure, and free.