Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Night the Virgin Mary Wept

tearVirginMary-viBy: Alexandra Kinias —

I pulled myself out of bed and put an end to another long insomniac night. Sleep had been unattainable since the news of the army dispersing the Muslim Brotherhood’s (MB) sit-ins that were occupying the streets of Cairo, Egypt took center stage, and the anticipated violence and terrorist attacks by the ousted President’s followers were swiping the country from one corner to the other, as they had promised.

Filled with exhaustion after several sleepless nights, I crawled out of bed and back to my computer screen that I bid goodnight few hours earlier. The crickets were screeching in the silence of the hot August night, dense with humidity. I felt the heat of the blazing fires that burned down the churches in Egypt, fifty of them, few thousand miles away. I saw the dark nights glowing with the flames and smelled the smoke; it had choked me in my dreams. The images of the destroyed churches, monasteries, religious institutes, and the nuns captured by the terrorists and paraded in the streets like prisoners of war  will be engraved in the minds of millions of Egyptians.

1185958_10151804645090977_830270665_n

Two weeks before the celebration of the Virgin Mary’s assumption to heaven, on August 22, many Copts (Egyptian Christians) around Egypt were left with no church to attend their mass in. The Copts had been targeted by the MB terrorists in unprecedented acts of violence against them in the history of modern Egypt. Burning their houses of worship was a direct attack on their faith that left them in pain, anger and humiliation, and left Egyptians and the world in shock at the atrocities committed by these terrorists towards the people of the Book  (Believers of the Abrahamic Religions)

My heart swelled with heaviness and gloom as I contemplated about the escalating events in Egypt, the country of my birth. As a result of the forceful dispersion by the army after all negotiations to a peaceful end to the sit-ins, that had been disrupting and terrorizing the lives of Egyptians for almost six weeks, failed, the MB members (terrorists in disguise), went on a wild burning spree that torched the country. Police stations and 50 churches were burnt in retaliation. They had promised twice to burn down the country and ignite a civil war. The first time, if Morsi lost the elections, and the second time, if he was not released from jail after his arrest on July 3rd. The terrorists of the Muslim Brotherhood organization indeed delivered on their promise.

954786_621812947839820_1780043752_n

 Escalating the violence was the first step to create a chaos to destabilize the country.  In a calculated move, they torched down the churches to provoke the Copts, to incite violence and to ignite a civil war between the two factions of the society; the Muslims and the Copts. The followers of the ousted Morsi blamed them  for the role they played to bring down their President. Had they abstained from joining the marches against Morsi, they would have been saved, Morsi’s terrorists explained. That was just a lame excuse to cover up for their hatred and hostility they have been carrying in their hearts towards the Copts all along.

999121_10151694299889193_169569643_n

A beam of light illuminated the streets of Egypt on Jan 2011 when the revolution against Mubarak rocked the country. Muslims and Copts  took the streets side by side in the revolution that ousted Mubarak, defying all their fears and the consequences had the revolution failed. Death didn’t differentiate between the faiths of the young people who lost their lives. Their blood mixed on the asphalt  and their mothers shared the same grief of losing a loved one. For the first time ever the church choir performed in public, on the Tahrir Square stage, where church hymns were chanted by all attendees, in a very emotional moment that prompted hope in restoring the national unity. In this time of crisis, it seemed that the partners of the nation were properly introduced to each other. Coexistence, tolerance, acceptance were words that have been used in the past, but they were felt for the first time in the hearts of the millions that gathered in Tahrir Square. The future looked hopeful – the horizon looked brighter.

Then Morsi came to power. The president in his acceptance speech forgot to mention all the partners in the nation. For him and his organization, the Copts don’t exist. He never mended any fences with them. On the contrary, sectarian tension escalated, violence never stopped against the Copts and the Pope’s headquarters in Cairo were attacked by MB supporters in broad day light under the watchful eyes of Morsi’s security forces. History will record that Morsi’s year in office witnessed the first attack on the seat of Christianity in Egypt in more than 1,400 years.

1185680_689043274457215_1114399553_n

After his failed year in office, Copts felt they were not the only ones targeted by the Muslim Brotherhood’s regime. Together with everybody else who didn’t belong to the MB camp, they were all in the same boat sailing towards an unknown fate. And when the Egyptians were called upon to take the streets on June 30th demanding Morsi’s resignation, Copts were back in the front lines side by side with their counterparts. And the revolution resulted in the ousting of Morsi and elevated the wrath against the Copts from his supporters.

1009846_433623150088914_643043813_n

After the churches were burnt down to the ground, the Pope of Egypt issued a statement that the Copts won’t just sacrifice their churches for Egypt, but also their lives. A strong message that all Egyptians are standing united against the destabilization of their country. The churches will be built again. But the churches are not made up of just walls and roofs. They are made of faith that resides in the hearts of millions of Coptic Egyptians.  The Copts of Egypt have put their lives and their faith in the front lines for their country and the least they should expect of her is to re-evaluate their relationship. Only a constitution based on equality between all factions of the country will help to mend their broken hearts,  erase the feelings of humiliation and restore their pride and dignity.

May the celebrations of the Virgin Mary’s assumption to Heaven bring back Peace to the land where The Holy family took refuge two thousand years ago. The land of Egypt that was mentioned in all the Holy Books will forever remain blessed.

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Filed under Politics, Sectarian violence

The Night the Virgin Mary Wept

tearVirginMary-viBy: Alexandra Kinias —

I pulled myself out of bed and put an end to another long insomniac night. Sleep had been unattainable since the news of the army dispersing the Muslim Brotherhood’s (MB) sit-ins that were occupying the streets of Cairo, Egypt took center stage, and the anticipated violence and terrorist attacks by the ousted President’s followers were swiping the country from one corner to the other, as they had promised.

Filled with exhaustion after several sleepless nights, I crawled out of bed and back to my computer screen that I bid goodnight few hours earlier. The crickets were screeching in the silence of the hot August night, dense with humidity. I felt the heat of the blazing fires that burned down the churches in Egypt, fifty of them, few thousand miles away. I saw the dark nights glowing with the flames and smelled the smoke; it had choked me in my dreams. The images of the destroyed churches, monasteries, religious institutes, and the nuns captured by the terrorists and paraded in the streets like prisoners of war  will be engraved in the minds of millions of Egyptians.

1185958_10151804645090977_830270665_n

Two weeks before the celebration of the Virgin Mary’s assumption to heaven, on August 22, many Copts (Egyptian Christians) around Egypt were left with no church to attend their mass in. The Copts had been targeted by the MB terrorists in unprecedented acts of violence against them in the history of modern Egypt. Burning their houses of worship was a direct attack on their faith that left them in pain, anger and humiliation, and left Egyptians and the world in shock at the atrocities committed by these terrorists towards the people of the Book  (Believers of the Abrahamic Religions)

My heart swelled with heaviness and gloom as I contemplated about the escalating events in Egypt, the country of my birth. As a result of the forceful dispersion by the army after all negotiations to a peaceful end to the sit-ins, that had been disrupting and terrorizing the lives of Egyptians for almost six weeks, failed, the MB members (terrorists in disguise), went on a wild burning spree that torched the country. Police stations and 50 churches were burnt in retaliation. They had promised twice to burn down the country and ignite a civil war. The first time, if Morsi lost the elections, and the second time, if he was not released from jail after his arrest on July 3rd. The terrorists of the Muslim Brotherhood organization indeed delivered on their promise.

954786_621812947839820_1780043752_n

 Escalating the violence was the first step to create a chaos to destabilize the country.  In a calculated move, they torched down the churches to provoke the Copts, to incite violence and to ignite a civil war between the two factions of the society; the Muslims and the Copts. The followers of the ousted Morsi blamed them  for the role they played to bring down their President. Had they abstained from joining the marches against Morsi, they would have been saved, Morsi’s terrorists explained. That was just a lame excuse to cover up for their hatred and hostility they have been carrying in their hearts towards the Copts all along.

999121_10151694299889193_169569643_n

A beam of light illuminated the streets of Egypt on Jan 2011 when the revolution against Mubarak rocked the country. Muslims and Copts  took the streets side by side in the revolution that ousted Mubarak, defying all their fears and the consequences had the revolution failed. Death didn’t differentiate between the faiths of the young people who lost their lives. Their blood mixed on the asphalt  and their mothers shared the same grief of losing a loved one. For the first time ever the church choir performed in public, on the Tahrir Square stage, where church hymns were chanted by all attendees, in a very emotional moment that prompted hope in restoring the national unity. In this time of crisis, it seemed that the partners of the nation were properly introduced to each other. Coexistence, tolerance, acceptance were words that have been used in the past, but they were felt for the first time in the hearts of the millions that gathered in Tahrir Square. The future looked hopeful – the horizon looked brighter.

Then Morsi came to power. The president in his acceptance speech forgot to mention all the partners in the nation. For him and his organization, the Copts don’t exist. He never mended any fences with them. On the contrary, sectarian tension escalated, violence never stopped against the Copts and the Pope’s headquarters in Cairo were attacked by MB supporters in broad day light under the watchful eyes of Morsi’s security forces. History will record that Morsi’s year in office witnessed the first attack on the seat of Christianity in Egypt in more than 1,400 years.

1185680_689043274457215_1114399553_n

After his failed year in office, Copts felt they were not the only ones targeted by the Muslim Brotherhood’s regime. Together with everybody else who didn’t belong to the MB camp, they were all in the same boat sailing towards an unknown fate. And when the Egyptians were called upon to take the streets on June 30th demanding Morsi’s resignation, Copts were back in the front lines side by side with their counterparts. And the revolution resulted in the ousting of Morsi and elevated the wrath against the Copts from his supporters.

1009846_433623150088914_643043813_n

After the churches were burnt down to the ground, the Pope of Egypt issued a statement that the Copts won’t just sacrifice their churches for Egypt, but also their lives. A strong message that all Egyptians are standing united against the destabilization of their country. The churches will be built again. But the churches are not made up of just walls and roofs. They are made of faith that resides in the hearts of millions of Coptic Egyptians.  The Copts of Egypt have put their lives and their faith in the front lines for their country and the least they should expect of her is to re-evaluate their relationship. Only a constitution based on equality between all factions of the country will help to mend their broken hearts,  erase the feelings of humiliation and restore their pride and dignity.

May the celebrations of the Virgin Mary’s assumption to Heaven bring back Peace to the land where The Holy family took refuge two thousand years ago. The land of Egypt that was mentioned in all the Holly Books will forever remain blessed.

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Filed under Politics, Sectarian violence

Malala Yousafzadi’s Journey to the UN

Photo copied from the Internet - All rights reserved to its ownership.

Photo copied from the Internet – All rights reserved to its ownership.

— By Alexandra Kinias —

Malala Yousafzadi is a breath of fresh air in an environment polluted with gunpowder and radicalism. She is a spring blossom growing in a field of thorny bushes, only to be injured by their needles. In October 2012, on her way back from school, Malala’s school bus was ambushed by the Taliban. She was shot with one bullet, which went through her head, neck, and ended in her shoulder. The young girl was left to die, together with two of her friends who were also shot on site. She was fifteen years old.

Though Malala was not the first to be assaulted by this terrorist group, yet she was specifically targeted in this tragic attack that was condemned worldwide. Many other girls face the same fate together with their teachers in sporadic attacks around Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan where the Taliban influence dominates. The girls’ only crime was going to school.
Malala’s journey to recover from her brain injuries was remarkable, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise. The young girl has demonstrated, throughout her life, nothing but strength, resilience and courage.

Growing up in the Swat province in Pakistan, Malala had experienced the Taliban’s rule first hand. A smart young student, in 2009, at the age of 12, she wrote for a BBC blog under a pseudo name about her experience living under the Taliban during the battle of Swat. As the war intensified, her family was dispersed from their hometown and Malala ended up living in a refugee camp for few months. Later that year, after her family reunited at the end of the war, she returned back home only to find that the Taliban had closed the girls’ schools. Inspired by her father’s activism in political life, Malala committed herself to become a politician and an activist for girl’s rights. In the documentary for the NYTimes, Class Dismissed, she explained why she wanted to be involved in the political life, “I have a new dream … I must be a politician to save this country. There are so many crises in our country. I want to remove these crises.”

By the end of 2009, she had received wide international exposure and began to publicly advocate for female education. She brought the world’s attention to the critical situation of girl’s education in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In her speeches, she bravely condemned the rule of the Taliban and demanded the right of girls to go to school. After receiving the National Youth Peace Prize in Pakistan, her name received wider recognition, but that came with a price: her life was on peril. At the age of only 12, Malala was receiving death threats from the Taliban. But in defiance to them, she didn’t deter from the active role and the course of life she had set for herself. As the death threats failed to silence her, the Taliban leaders unanimously agreed to kill her, in a meeting they held in the summer of 2012.

The failed assassination attempt on Malala was justified by the Pakistani Taliban that she was the symbol of the infidels and obscenity, and if she would to survive, the group would target her again. They blamed her father whom they claimed had encouraged her to attack the Taliban in her speeches. According to the Taliban, Malala’s defending her right and the right of girls to go to school was propagation against Islam, but the truth of the matter is that the Taliban view women’s education as a direct threat to them and what they represent. Malala was shot in the head. They wanted to blow her brain out. That’s exactly what the Taliban want; to rob women their right and privilege to think. Taliban fear the education of women. With girl’s education they will lose their control and dominance over them, this control that only thrives with ignorance.

After the recovery from this reprehensible attack, Malala emerged stronger and more resilient than ever. On July 12, 2013, on her sixteenth birthday, she delivered a speech in the UN that was viewed by millions of people worldwide. On the event that was dubbed as Malala Day, she was draped with the shawl of the late Benazir Buhto, the Pakistani politician who was also assassinated by another radical group. Malala captivated the hearts with her speech and received multiple standing ovations as she delivered her powerful statement that incited peace, forgiveness, courage and strength. Her speech to the UN was not just a blow to the terrorists who wanted to silence her, but also a reminder on which side the world is standing. The battle between darkness and light is long and fierce. Even though the weapons of the darkness are more deadly, but as Malala said in her speech, “Pens are mightier than guns.”

The aspiring young woman is setting an example of hope and determination. She is a role model of defiance for all the girls who are battling to go to school under inhumane conditions, and bullets. Malala believes that education is the only hope for a better future and she is determined to fight for every child’s right for education.“So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.” Malala said.

For more on Malala Yousafzai:

Malal’s Speech at the UN:

Taliban Gun Down Girl Who Spoke Up for Rights

Letter from Taliban to Malala Yousafzai: Why we shot you?

The text of Malala Yousafzai’s speech at the United Nations

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Filed under Human Rights, Violence against women, Women's Rights