‘Coptic Miracle’: an Arab News Deep Dive into the history, hopes and fears of Egypt’s Coptic Christian community

Special ‘Coptic Miracle’: an Arab News Deep Dive into the history, hopes and fears of Egypt’s Coptic Christian community
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Updated 24 April 2022

‘Coptic Miracle’: an Arab News Deep Dive into the history, hopes and fears of Egypt’s Coptic Christian community

‘Coptic Miracle’: an Arab News Deep Dive into the history, hopes and fears of Egypt’s Coptic Christian community
  • In a special Deep Dive report, Arab News tells the story of the ‘Coptic miracle’

LONDON: On Sunday, the 15 million Coptic Christians in Egypt and 2 million more in scattered migrant communities across the world celebrate Orthodox Easter.

The following day, together with Egyptians of all faiths, Coptic Christians will celebrate the national holiday of Sham Ennessim.

Like the Copts themselves, the festival of spring, whose origins date back millennia to the days of the pharaohs, survived the Arabization of Egypt in the seventh century to become an integral part of Egyptian society.

In a special Minority Report, Arab News tells the extraordinary story of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, which parted company with the rest of Christendom in the fifth century after a fundamental disagreement over the nature of Christ’s divinity.

Founded in the great city of Alexandria by Mark the Evangelist in about A.D. 60, the church and its followers have undergone centuries of turmoil.

 

 

During the Roman era, Coptic Christians were singled out for bloody persecution, with St. Mark himself brutally martyred in A.D. 68.

During the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian (A.D. 245-313), what became known as the Diocletianic Persecution saw countless hundreds of Christians massacred in Alexandria alone. Among them was Peter, the Patriarch of Alexandria, who was beheaded.

After the rise of Islam and the conquest of Egypt in the seventh century, although there were isolated periods of persecution, over the centuries the Copts were treated well enough.

 

 

But the pressure of rising taxes imposed on non-Muslims saw many Christians convert to Islam, while the rapid spread of Arabic culture caused the Coptic language to fall into disuse.

Although rarely heard outside the churches, today the language, a direct descendant of the ancient Egyptian tongue spoken in the time of the pharaohs, lives on in the liturgies and monasteries of the faith.

In modern times, the Copts in Egypt have faced waves of violence at the hands of Islamists, who have bombed Coptic churches and murdered believers.

The filmed killings of 20 migrant Coptic workers in Libya in 2015 shocked the world, while a wave of attacks on Copts and their churches in Egypt in 2017 left dozens dead.

“One of the most important things for Copts today, in Egypt and abroad, is that over the past decade we have seen a much greater, harmonious existence between Christians and Muslims.”

Archbishop Anba Angaelos, Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London

Since the 1970s, many Copts, driven either by fear or economic pressures, have emigrated to seek new futures in the West, mainly in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK.

Wherever they have put down roots, Coptic communities and their churches have blossomed, and maintain close links with Egypt and the faith.

Today, Coptic leaders look optimistically toward a brighter future.

“One of the most important things for Copts today, in Egypt and abroad, is that over the past decade we have seen a much greater, harmonious existence between Christians and Muslims,” Archbishop Anba Angaelos, head of the Coptic Church in the UK, exclusively told Arab News.

In “The Coptic Miracle,” Arab News tells the story of how Egypt’s historic Christian church not only survived but thrived, at home and abroad.

The Coptic miracle
How Egypt's historic Christian church survived and thrived

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Bella Hadid expresses ‘sadness’ at growing up away from Palestinian roots

Bella Hadid expresses ‘sadness’ at growing up away from Palestinian roots
Updated 14 sec ago

Bella Hadid expresses ‘sadness’ at growing up away from Palestinian roots

Bella Hadid expresses ‘sadness’ at growing up away from Palestinian roots
  • Model opens up on her relationship with Muslim, Arab heritage ahead of acting debut in Hulu’s ‘Ramy’
  • Hadid has become a vocal campaigner at demos and on social media about the plight of Palestinian people

LONDON: The model Bella Hadid has spoken of her “sadness” that her “Muslim culture” was taken from her as a child following the divorce of her parents.

In an interview with GQ, ahead of her acting debut in the Hulu TV series “Ramy,” she said she had been “extracted” from her Palestinian father, real estate developer Mohamed Hadid, and his side of the family when her mother, Dutch model Yolanda Hadid, moved her and her siblings, Gigi and Anwar, from Washington, D.C. to Santa Barbara, California.

“I was with my Palestinian side (of the family) and I got extracted when we moved to California,” she said.

“I would have loved to grow up and be with my dad every day and studying and really being able to practice, just in general being able to live in a Muslim culture, but I wasn’t given that.”

Hadid, who was just four years old when she was forced to move, added she was the only Arab girl in her class at school in Santa Barbara and suffered racist discrimination.

“For so long I was missing that (Palestinian) part of me, and it made me really, really sad and lonely,” she said.

“Ramy” is a comedy-drama about a first-generation American Muslim, starring Hadid’s friend Ramy Youssef. She said the show had ignited her interest in discovering more about her Palestinian heritage and her faith.

She added that she “couldn’t handle” her emotions when crew members working on the show gave her a “Free Palestine” T-shirt as a gift.

“Growing up and being Arab, it was the first time that I’d ever been with like-minded people,” she said. “I was able to see myself.”

The 25-year-old star has become vociferous in her support for Palestine in recent years, attending protests and spreading awareness on social media.

In a post following a protest four years ago, she wrote: “It has always been #freepalestine. ALWAYS. I have a lot to say about this but for now, please read and educate yourself.

“This is not about religion. This is not about spewing hate on one or the other. This is about Israeli colonization, ethnic cleansing, military occupation and apartheid over the Palestinian people that has been going on for YEARS!”

Writing on Instagram after attending a protest in New York in 2021, she said: “The way my heart feels ... To be around this many beautiful, smart, respectful, loving, kind, and generous Palestinians all in one place ... It feels whole. We are a rare breed!”

In another post, following violence in Gaza later that year, she wrote: “You cannot allow yourself to be desensitized to watching human life being taken. Palestinian lives are the lives that will help change the world. And they are being taken from us by the second.”

In an Instagram post about her grandparents’ wedding in Palestine in 1941, she wrote: “I love my family, I love my heritage, I love Palestine.”

In the GQ interview, the model also opened up on issues surrounding body image and self-esteem. She said she had compared herself unfavorably to her older sister, and fellow model, Gigi, developed an eating disorder, and even been driven to plastic surgery at the age of only 14 years old when she had a nose job.

“I wish I had kept the nose of my ancestors,” she said as she reflected on the procedure. “I think I would have grown into it.”

She added: “I’ve had this impostor syndrome where people made me feel like I didn’t deserve any of this.

“People can say anything about how I look, about how I talk, about how I act. But in seven years I never missed a job, canceled a job, was late to a job. No one can ever say that I don’t work my a— off.”


Egypt church fire not deliberate: Probe

Egypt church fire not deliberate: Probe
Updated 18 August 2022

Egypt church fire not deliberate: Probe

Egypt church fire not deliberate: Probe
  • The public prosecution questioned 33 witnesses, including the 16 people injured

CAIRO: The fire that broke out in the Abu Sefein Church in Egypt on Sunday was not deliberate, according to an investigation by the public prosecution.
The cause of the fire, which killed 41 people, was a defect with an electric generator in the church after it was turned on due to a power outage.
The public prosecution questioned 33 witnesses, including the 16 people injured, who said they heard the sound of electric charges emanating from inside the church, and the fire broke out after that. Prosecutor General Hamada El-Sawy said the victims had died of smoke inhalation.


Coptic pope offers condolences over church fire

Coptic pope offers condolences over church fire
Updated 18 August 2022

Coptic pope offers condolences over church fire

Coptic pope offers condolences over church fire
  • Blaze in Egyptian city of Giza killed 41 people, injured 16
  • ‘We thank God for all those who contributed to containing this crisis’

CAIRO: The Egyptian people showed their genuine nature with regard to Sunday’s fire in Abu Sefein Church that killed 41 people and injured 16 in the city of Giza, said the pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Pope Tawadros II thanked everyone who contributed to containing the blaze, and offered condolences to the family of a priest who died.

“He was a beloved priest until his last breath, and we console the people of the church, both adults and children, knowing that they are with Christ, and that is very much better,” the pope said.

“We thank God for all those who contributed to containing this crisis, including the concerned agencies, officials, the people and neighbors.”

He said he is scheduled to meet in the next few days with the victims’ families, adding that Christian and Muslim communities in various countries have offered their condolences. The Interior Ministry said an electrical fault had caused the fire.


Russian ship carrying ‘plundered’ Ukraine grain reaches Syria: embassy

Russian ship carrying ‘plundered’ Ukraine grain reaches Syria: embassy
Updated 18 August 2022

Russian ship carrying ‘plundered’ Ukraine grain reaches Syria: embassy

Russian ship carrying ‘plundered’ Ukraine grain reaches Syria: embassy
  • "According to our information, SV KONSTANTIN has docked in Syria," the embassy said
  • It said the ship was carrying "grains that were plundered and illegally transported by the Russian occupation authorities"

BEIRUT: A Russian cargo ship allegedly carrying stolen Ukrainian grain has reached Syria, Kyiv’s embassy in Beirut said Thursday, the latest in a series of contested shipments arriving in the war-torn country.
“According to our information, SV KONSTANTIN has docked in Syria,” the embassy said in a statement to AFP.
It said the ship was carrying “grains that were plundered and illegally transported by the Russian occupation authorities,” adding that the vessel was initially destined for the Lebanese port of Tripoli.
Ukraine has repeatedly accused Russian forces of ransacking its grain warehouses since they invaded the country in late February.
The embassy’s statement came as another cargo ship carrying the first shipment of grain allowed to leave Ukraine under a UN-backed deal reportedly unloaded its cargo at the Syrian port of Tartus, which is managed by a Russian firm.
The Sierra Leone-flagged vessel Razoni was expected to arrive in Lebanon, but the shipment’s five-month delay prompted the Lebanese buyer to cancel the deal once the ship was already at sea, Ukrainian officials had said.
According to Samir Madani, co-founder of oil shipping monitoring website TankerTrackers.com, the vessel docked in Tartus earlier this week.
Satellite imagery appeared to show that the ship — which was carrying 26,000 tons of corn — was unloading its cargo, Madani tweeted on Thursday.
Earlier this month, a Syrian-flagged ship was briefly seized by Lebanese authorities following similar claims by the Ukrainian embassy that it was laden with stolen cargo.
Lebanon later released the Laodicea vessel after investigations failed to prove it carried stolen goods, drawing criticism from Kyiv’s embassy.
The Laodicea started unloading its cargo at Tartus on August 8, according to Syrian state media.
Syria is a staunch ally of Russia, which intervened in the country’s civil war in 2015 to support President Bashar Assad’s government.
Moscow has lent Damascus very limited amounts of financial aid, but it has supplied Syria with wheat as a form of assistance.
The Syrian government relies on Moscow for the bulk of its wheat imports.


Egyptian, Canadian ministers discuss cooperation

Egyptian, Canadian ministers discuss cooperation
Updated 18 August 2022

Egyptian, Canadian ministers discuss cooperation

Egyptian, Canadian ministers discuss cooperation
  • Sajjan said: “I was impressed by the Egyptian vision of empowering women.”

CAIRO: Nevin Al-Kabbaj, Egypt’s minister of social solidarity, met with Harjit Sajjan, Canada’s minister of international development, to discuss cooperation in various fields.
Al-Kabbaj reviewed her ministry’s programs and activities, including those focusing on the rights of women and the disabled.
Sajjan said: “I was impressed by the Egyptian vision of empowering women.”
Al-Kabbaj expressed her appreciation for the efforts of the Canadian Embassy and the Canadian Development Agency to support development in Egypt and her ministry’s economic-empowerment projects.