Amid violence, Egypt's Christians rely on Muslim friends, ponder future

Once the Coptics were Egypt's elite, but their situation has gone downhill ever since their wealth was confiscated in 1952, their equality was lost and now as they are targeted by hardliners.

Burned-out rubble is all that’s left of Christian shopkeeper Abskharon Suleiman’s appliance store in the northern Egyptian village of Sharbat. His home was destroyed as well as shops owned by his adult children – all targeted because they are Christians.

Christians pray for an end to the violence (Photo by Gorkems)

Ten-year-old Romany Rashed remembers being terrified during the attack. The fourth grader told the Christian Science Monitor ’s Kristen Chick of fleeing to a room “where his family huddled together, afraid for their lives, as a violent mob attacked their house.

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“His family had fled to this room on the top floor, where pictures of Jesus and Coptic saints hang on bare cement walls. His parents dragged heavy furniture to the door, barricading it as they heard people try to break in below. The mob was throwing rocks at the windows, and he heard gunfire, says Romany. They were cursing Christians."

“We kept praying that God would be with us,” the boy told the Monitor reporter. “And He was.”

As the mob set fire to the home of a Christian family across the street, Muslim neighbors saved Romany’s family, hustling them out of their house by a back entrance, into a car, and out of the village, until it was safe enough to return.

After his church was burned to the ground in a village nearby, a local clergyman was sentenced to six months in prison for rebuilding the church slightly taller than the building permit allowed. Incredibly, as he appeals the verdict, no legal action has been taken against those who burned he church or the Muslim imams who inflamed their passions at local mosques, inciting a mob of 3,000 to burn down the church building.

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