Jan 16, 2014
Life is not easy in Egypt for Christians, and the strain is taking its toll. And beyond the reports of churches burned and homes attacked, there is also a more subtle subtler hardship affecting ordinary families. While not universal, mistreatment and discrimination are unfortunately common.
"Every day we leave our house, not knowing what will happen," says Girgis, an Egyptian Catholic from Helwan-a city south of the Egyptian capital of Cairo-who prefers not to use his real name. "But this is the Christian way, to take things day by day," he adds.
Girgis describes his normal routine as commuting to work, coming home, going to church, perhaps visiting relatives – but avoiding for the most part significant interactions with society. Many Christians increasingly tend toward such isolation, he explains, though as a man, he says, he can blend in and escape the worst.
For his wife Maria (also not her real name), things are much harder. Christian women in Egypt, especially in lower-class neighborhoods such as where she and her family live, stand out for not wearing a head covering, which sets them apart from the great majority of Muslim women. A mother of a three-year-old daughter and a one-year old son, she says their modest neighborhood in Cairo is all they can afford.