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CHRISTIANS FLEE NORTH-EAST SYRIA AS FIGHTING CONTINUES

DAMASCUS/ANKARA (BosNewsLife)– Tens of thousands of panicked-stricken people, many of them Christians, are seen fleeing north-east Syria amid fears that a brief ceasefire will not end a deadly Turkish invasion. They escape a region where over 100 people, including some Christians, were reported killed in recent fighting between Turkish and Kurdish forces. Others were injured.

“Already one Christian home in a Christian neighborhood in the city of Qamishli has been shelled, with family members injured,” confirmed Christian aid group, Barnabas Fund.

“The mother is in a critical condition in hospital. Two other Christians in Qamishli have been killed and many wounded,” the group added.

Barnabas Fund said, “Christians are alarmed to note that the attacking forces include not only the Turkish army but also Syrian Islamist rebel factions whose extremist ideology makes them strongly anti-Christian.”

At least one Islamic rebel group, the Levant Front, seized Christian homes of those fleeing in the town of Tal Abyad, other Christian aid workers told BosNewsLife. It was not immediately clear how many houses had been taken over.

CHRISTIAN REFUGEES

Barnabas Fund claimed that some of the Christian refugees were already displaced several times during Syria’s civil war. They “finally found stability in this region. Now they must run for their lives again,” the group explained in a statement to BosNewsLife.

As many as 100,000 people have already left their homes, according to the United Nations. The number of internally displaced persons could reach 300,000 in the area, warned Barnabas Fund citing local sources.

Turkey’s attacks, launched last week, target a part of Syria viewed as relatively secure in eight years of civil war. “But overnight it has become a battlefield,” Barnabas Fund complained.

The group noted that the region has strong Christian communities that are “often seen as a peace-keeping buffer between the Arabs and Kurds.”

Barnabas Fund said it is providing humanitarian aid such as food and shelter to Syrian Christians. Additionally, “We have also helped to support our brothers and sisters spiritually. That includes funding projects to strengthen church ministry and build them up in their faith through the years of unrelenting conflict, loss, and trauma,” it stressed. “As Christians, they suffered persecution for their faith in addition to all the normal suffering of the war.”

MORE VIOLENCE

Christians have reasons to fear more violence. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey warned his troops would “crush the heads” of Kurdish fighters if they don’t withdraw from a planned safe zone area in northern Syria.

Turkey agreed on Thursday, October 17, to suspend an offensive for five days to allow Kurdish forces to withdraw from the region.

But both sides have accused the other of violating the ceasefire, which was negotiated by the United States. American forces appeared unwilling Monday, October 21, to be drawn into the conflict. Reporters saw hundreds of trucks carrying American troops crossing into Iraq in a long military convoy Monday.

U.S. President Donald Trump said last week that he would bring all American troops stationed in Syria “back home.” He rejected concerns that this could lead to the freeing of Islamic militants from prisons and more pressure on minority Christians and other vulnerable groups.

American troops fought the Islamic State terror group alongside the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. Most of these forces will move to western Iraq, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said. But he suggested that some would remain temporarily in Syria to protect oil fields from Islamic State, despite President Trump’s call for a full withdrawal.

EGYPT – Another Coptic Christian found dead in northern Sinai

Egypt-christian-attack

(Agenzia Fides) – A 40-year-old Coptic Christian was found dead with a gunshot to the neck, in the Egyptian town of Al-Arish, capital of Northern Sinai, on Thursday, February 23. The body was found inside his home, which had been set on fire. This is the third Coptic Christian killed in Al Arish in the past 48 hours, and the seventh murdered in the Sinai Peninsula in the last two weeks.

On Wednesday, February 22 the authorities found the bullet-riddled body of a Christian about 65; his son also died with him, burned alive by jihadists. On February 12, some masked men on a motorcycle gunned down a Christian veterinarian, while he was at the wheel of his own car. In late January, a 35-year-old Christian officer was killed.

In recent days, in a video posted on the Telegram messaging site, the Islamic State had promised to strike the Christian community, defined by jihadists as “the preferred prey”. Among these, the most serious was the suicide bombing on  December 11 against a Coptic Orthodox church in Cairo, which caused 29 victims.

A priest says 1,000 Christians have fled, with some receiving threats on their mobile phones

Hundreds of Christians have fled the city of el-Arish in Egypt after a spate of attacks by suspected Islamic militants.

A priest told the Associated Press that he and some 1,000 other Christians had fled for fear of being targeted next. He blamed lax security, saying: “You feel like this is all meant to force us to leave our homes. We became like refugees.”

It was earlier reported that militants had shot dead a Coptic Christian man, Kamel Youssef, in front of his wife and daughter. The account had been given by two officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

A priest in the city said militants then kidnapped and stabbed his daughter before dumping her body near a police station. It wasn’t immediately possible to confirm his account. Read More

World Ignores Christian Exodus from Islamic World

Christian refugees, who fled or were expelled from Mosul, crowd around a truck distributing food aid.

Christian refugees, who fled or were expelled from Mosul, crowd around a truck distributing food aid. Photo: Ray Ibrahim

(Gatestone InstituteWhile the world fixates on the conflict between Israel and Hamas—and while most mainstream media demonize Israel for trying to survive amid a sea of Arab-Islamic hostility—similar or worse tragedies continue to go virtually ignored.

As Reuters reported:One of the most ancient Christian communities in the world, that of Iraq—which already had been decimated over the last decade, by Islamic forces unleashed after the ousting of Saddam Hussein—has now been wiped out entirely by the new “caliphate,” the so-called Islamic State, formerly known by the acronym “ISIS.”

Islamist insurgents have issued an ultimatum to northern Iraq’s dwindling Christian population to either convert to Islam, pay a religious levy or face death, according to a statement distributed in the militant-controlled city of Mosul….

It said Christians who wanted to remain in the “caliphate” that the Islamic State declared this month in parts of Iraq and Syria must agree to abide by terms of a “dhimma” contract—a historic practice under which non-Muslims were protected in Muslim lands in return for a special levy known as “jizya.”

“We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract—involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword,” the announcement said.

The amount of jizya-money demanded was $450 a month, an exorbitant sum for Iraq.

Hours after the demand for jizya was made, Islamists began painting the letter “n” on Christian homes in Mosul—in Arabic, Christians are known as “Nasara,” or “Nazarenes”—signaling them out for the slaughter to come.

Most Christians have since fled. A one-minute video in Arabic of their exodus appears here—women and children weeping as they flee their homes—a video that will not be shown by any Western mainstream media outlet, busy as they are depicting instead nonstop images of Palestinian women and children.

The Syrian Orthodox bishop of Mosul said that what is happening to the Christians of Mosul is nothing less than “genocide… not to mention the slaughters and rapes not being reported… Forcing more than a thousand Christian families out of Mosul, and turning Christian churches into Muslim mosques, is equivalent to genocide.”  Of course, the word genocide means to kill or make extinct a people.

Others were not as lucky to flee. According to Iraqi human rights activist Hena Edward, a great many older and disabled Iraqis, unable to pay the jizya or join the exodus, have opted to convert to Islam.

Meanwhile, the jihadis continue destroying churches and other ancient Christian holy sites in the name of their religion, and murdering any Christians they can find. Among other acts, they torched an 1800 year old church in Mosul, stormed a fourth century monastery—formerly one of Iraq’s best known Christian landmarks—and expelling its resident monks.

Most recently, in Syrian regions under the Islamic State’s control, eight Christians were reportedly crucified.

The Islamic State’s call for Christians to pay jizya is not simply about money. It is about subjugation. Most Western media reporting on this recent call for jizya have failed to explain the accompanying dhimma contract Christians must also abide by. According to the Islamic State, “We offer them [Christians] three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract—involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.”

The “dhimma contract” is a reference to the Conditions of Omar, an Islamic text attributed to the caliph of the same name that forces Christians to live according to third class citizen status.

In fact, several months back, when the Islamic State was still called “ISIS,” it applied the Conditions of Omar on the Christian minorities of Raqqa, Syria. The Islamic group had issued a directive

citing the Islamic concept of “dhimma”, [which] requires Christians in the city to pay tax of around half an ounce (14g) of pure gold in exchange for their safety. It says Christians must not make renovations to churches, display crosses or other religious symbols outside churches, ring church bells or pray in public. Christians must not carry arms, and must follow other rules imposed by ISIS… “If they reject, they are subject to being legitimate targets, and nothing will remain between them and ISIS other than the sword,” the statement said [emphasis added].

The persecution and exodus of Christians is hardly limited to Iraq. In 2011, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom noted: “The flight of Christians out of the region is unprecedented and it’s increasing year by year.” In our lifetime alone “Christians might disappear altogether from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt,” all Muslim majority nations.

Under Saddam Hussein, and before the 2003 U.S. “liberation” of Iraq, more than a million Christians lived in Iraq; Mosul had some 60,000 Christians. Today there are reportedly none thanks to the new Muslim “caliphate.”

In Egypt, some 100,000 Christian Copts fled their homeland soon after the “Arab Spring.” But even before that, the Coptic Orthodox Church lamented the “repeated incidents of displacement of Copts from their homes, whether by force or threat. Displacements began in Ameriya [62 Christian families evicted], then they stretched to Dahshur [120 Christian families evicted], and today terror and threats have reached the hearts and souls of our Coptic children in Sinai.”

In late 2012, it was reported that the last Christian in the city of Homs, Syria—which had a Christian population of some 80,000 before jihadis came—was murdered. An escaped teenage Syrian girl said: “We left because they were trying to kill us… because we were Christians…. Those who were our neighbors turned against us. At the end, when we ran away, we went through balconies. We did not even dare go out on the street in front of our house.”

In the African nation of Mali, after a 2012 Islamic coup, as many as 200,000 Christians fled. According to reports, “the church in Mali faces being eradicated,” especially in the north “where rebels want to establish an independent Islamist state and drive Christians out… there have been house to house searches for Christians who might be in hiding, church and Christian property has been looted or destroyed, and people tortured into revealing any Christian relatives.” At least one pastor was beheaded.

One can go on and on:

  • In Ethiopia, after a Christian was accused of desecrating a Koran, thousands of Christians were forced to flee their homes when “Muslim extremists set fire to roughly 50 churches and dozens of Christian homes.”
  • In the Ivory Coast—where Christians have been crucified—Islamic rebels “massacred hundreds and displaced tens of thousands” of Christians.
  • In Libya, Islamic rebels forced several Christian nun orders serving the sick and needy since 1921 to flee and killed several Coptic Christians, causing that community also to flee.
  • In Muslim-majority northern Nigeria, where hardly a Sunday passes without a church bombing, Christians are fleeing by the thousands; one region has been emptied of 95% of its Christian population.
  • In Pakistan, after a Christian child was falsely accused of desecrating a Koran and Muslims went on an anti-Christian rampage, an entire Christian village—men, women, and children—was forced to flee into the nearby woods, where they built a church, to permanently reside there.

Despite all these atrocities, exoduses, and even genocides, the mainstream media seems to spend every available moment airing images of displaced Palestinians and demonizing Israel for trying to defend itself. Yet Israel does not kill Palestinians because of their religion or any other personal aspects. It does so in the context of being rocketed and trying to defend itself from terrorism.

On the other hand, all the crimes being committed by Muslims against Christians are simply motivated by religious hate, because the Christians are Christian.

It is to the mainstream media’s great shame that those who slaughter, behead, crucify, and displace people for no other reason than because they are Christian, rarely if ever get media coverage, while a nation such as Israel, which kills only in the context of self-defense, and not out of religious bigotry, is constantly demonized.

by Raymond Ibrahim

Raymond Ibrahim was recently interviewed by Fronda, a leading website in Poland.  The English-language version of the Polish interview, originally titled “Raymond Ibrahim: Prostration before Islam, English version – Read it HERE

WOLF: Genocide Taking Place in Iraq

Iraq

Washington, D.C. (July 22, 2014) – Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), long regarded as one of the leading human rights champions in Congress, today said genocide is taking place in Iraq.

Speaking on the House floor, Wolf said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is systematically targeting Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq for extinction.

For months, Wolf has been trying shine a bright light on what has been taking place in Iraq, as thousands of religious minorities have been forced to flee the lands they have inhabited for more than 2,000 years.  Not until ISIS last Thursday told the few remaining Christians in Mosul to leave or be killed did the world focus on what has been unfolding.

Below is the complete text of Wolf’s remarks:

“Mr. Speaker, the international legal definition of the crime of genocide is found in Article II of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.
“It says ‘genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.’
“I believe what is happening to the Christian community in Iraq is genocide.  I also believe it is a crime against humanity.
“Last Thursday, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria  – more commonly referred to as ISIS – gave the few remaining Christians in Mosul until Saturday to leave or be killed.
“This from yesterday New York Times: ‘Some went on foot, their car having been confiscated; others rode bicycles or motor scooters; few were able to take anything of value, as militants seized their money and jewelry.  Some – just a few, and because they were not healthy enough to flee – submitted to the demands that they convert to Islam to avoid being killed.’
“ISIS is systematically targeting Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq for extinction.
“I want to submit for the Record the complete article from The New York Times and an editorial from today’s Wall Street Journal for history to see what is happening.
“With the exception of Israel, the Bible contains more references to the cities, regions and nations of ancient Iraq than any other country.   The patriarch Abraham came from a city in Iraq called Ur.  Isaac’s bride, Rebekah, came from northwest Iraq.  Jacob spent 20 years in Iraq, and his sons (the 12 tribes of Israel) were born in northwest Iraq.  A remarkable spiritual revival as told in the book of Jonah occurred in Nineveh.  The events of the book of Esther took place in Iraq, as did the account of Daniel in the Lion’s Den

Iraq Attack Michigan Rally

“Monday’s New York Times piece also quotes a Muslim woman at a prayer service at St. George Chaldean Catholic Church in Baghdad on Sunday whispering to a Christian woman sitting in the pew next to her:  ‘You are the true original people here, we are so sorry for what has been done to you in the name of Islam.’
“On June 16, for the first time in 1,600 years, there was no Mass in Mosul.
“Pope Francis on Sunday expressed concern about what has unfolded in Mosul and other parts of the Middle East, noting that these communities, since the beginning of Christianity, have ‘co-existed there alongside their fellow citizens, making a significant contribution to the good of society.   Today they are persecuted.  Our brothers are persecuted, they are cast out, they are forced to leave their homes without having the chance to take anything with them.’
“The United Nations released a statement attributed to Ban Ki-moon that, in part, said:  ‘The Secretary-General reiterates that any systematic attack on the civilian population or segments of the civilian population, because of their ethnic background, religious beliefs or faith may constitute a crime against humanity, for which those responsible must be held accountable.’

“Where is the Obama Administration?
“In June, 55 Members of Congress – Republican and Democrats – urged the Obama Administration to actively engage with the Iraqi central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to prioritize additional security support for especially vulnerable populations, notably Iraq’s ancient Christian community and provide emergency humanitarian assistance to those affected communities.
“I want to read the last line from our letter:
‘Absent immediate action, we will most certainly witness the annihilation of an ancient faith community from the lands they’ve inhabited for centuries.’
“It is happening.  They are almost all gone – just as we predicted.
“The Obama Administration has to make protecting this ancient community a priority.
“It needs to encourage the Kurds to do what they can protect those fleeing ISIS and provide safe refuge.
“It needs to ensure that of the resources going to the region, a portion be guaranteed to help the Christian community.
“It needs to have the same courage as President Bush and former Secretary of State Colin Powell when they said genocide was taking place in Darfur.
“The United Nations has a role, too.  It should immediately initiate proceedings in the International Criminal Court against ISIS for crimes against humanity.
“The time to act is now.”

Christian Syrian Refugees Denied Visas to West

Photo-AP

Photo-AP

Christian Syrian refugees have found temporary shelter in Jordan, but their immigration requests have been rejected by Western countries.

Some of them have spoken to the Associated Press, but want to remain anonymous for safety reasons.

One Syrian refugee said, “Everyone sold whatever they owned in Syria in order to get here, so that we could apply for visas at an embassy. We were all surprised to be rejected on the basis that there was no reason for us to go to Europe. Their reasons were all false – nothing correct in them.”

Another man said that western countries “were supposed to support us, and they were supposed to facilitate our immigration process as Christians, and I’m very sad that they haven’t.”

About 70 Syrian families, who fled the violence and civil war of their homeland, are staying in halls and extra rooms of an Assyrian church in the capital Amman. Though the families are receiving food, aid and money from the church, they say the living conditions are difficult and they do not have enough heat to keep warm.   Christmas Day lacked the traditional happiness and joy one usually finds during the Holiday season   “I can’t feel happy about Christmas while our country is bleeding,” one refugee said.

Another refugee said, “We are suffering a lot here. Our only celebration today was inside a church to pray to God to restore security and peace in Syria.”   According to Jordanian officials, more than 1.3 million Syrian refugees have fled Syria since the beginning of the civil war.

Those that have not fled face threats to their safety from violence or even malnutrition.

The Syrian government has blockaded access to a rebel-occupied town called Moadamiyeh, threatening the livelihood of residents there.

Syrian officials say they will allow food into a military blocked town as long as the occupying rebels meet certain conditions – they must raise the Syrian national flag and surrender heavy weapons.

The rebels in Moadamiyeh agreed to the terms on Wednesday, and by Thursday the flag was flying.

The raising of the flag is a symbolic victory for the Syrian government under President Bashar Assad.

Though food is now allowed, the deal allows for limited daily entries only, ensuring that residents could be quickly blockaded again.

However, food deliveries have yet to arrive, because the Syrian government wants a military committee to seize the heavy weapons first. The truce additionally calls for the removal of anyone who is not a registered resident of Moadamiyeh, a condition likely to thin rebel ranks.

An opposition activist, nicknamed Qusai Zakarya for security reasons, said most of the town’s leaders were against the truce deal.

“But there are 8,000 hungry people here, and nobody helped us,” Zakarya said.

Rebels have held the town near Damascus and it has been under military blockade for months, not allowing food, fuel, or clean water to enter the town.

For the town’s 8,000 civilians malnutrition is a concern. Children and the elderly have already been badly affected with illnesses made worse from hunger.   The Western-backed exiled opposition group, the Syrian Coalition, said the deal demonstrated how Assad’s government used “food as a tool of war.”

CBN News

Egypt’s Christians, fearing instability, seek security elsewhere

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They say cathedral attack, kidnappings indicate government neglect

 Cairo, April 9 (World Watch Monitor) — By James Martone   In downtown Cairo mid-March, the multicolored pharaoh-motif tablecloths and dishtowels were missing from a fabric store once known for such items.
The owner of the textile factory that produced them closed down and left Egypt soon after the country’s 2011 revolution. Assad Attiya, a clerk who has worked at the store for 13 years, said the former factory owner, like himself, is Christian.
“The owner is afraid to come back. It is harder here now and we want to leave,” explained Attiya, 48, from behind an almost barren counter he said once had been “lined with beautiful linens.”

By some estimates, tens of thousands of Christians have left post-revolution Egypt. Like the former textile maker, they have left due to concerns over rising Muslim conservatism and a general instability they say is emboldening attacks against them. Perhaps the most dramatic example of sectarian tension yet occurred Sunday in central Cairo, where a crowd attacked Christian mourners after they emerged from a funeral in Egypt’s main Coptic Christian cathedral. The funeral was for four men killed in a Cairo gunfight Friday, in which a Muslim man also was killed. Some of the mourners, joined by sympathetic Muslims, filed out of St. Mark’s Cathedral shouting exhortations against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and his largely Islamic government.
The crowd responded to the demonstrators with rocks and gasoline bombs. Police eventually moved in, but numerous and independent news agencies reported police appeared to take the side of crowd, firing tear-gas canisters into the St. Mark’s courtyard and taking no action to stop the attacks on the Christians and their church.
Morsi called Coptic Pope Tawadros II to pledge an investigation and protection for all Egyptians.
“It is now clear that the state needs to take that responsibility far more seriously,” responded Bishop Angaelos, general bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, in a statement released after Sunday’s violence. Since the 2011 popular uprising that deposed former President Hosni Mubarak, Angaelos said, “we have seen escalating and increasing attacks on Christians, Christian communities, churches and now the Patriarchate during this past period of expected improvement, and so questions must be asked. What are the authorities waiting for? More bloodshed, violence, hostility, alienation, marginalisation, division, or just more anarchy?”
Many Christians are not waiting for the answers.
Attiya, the fabric-story clerk, said he had applied the last two years for U.S. residency — a green card — through a lottery system that Washington sponsors, but wasn’t selected.  A few months ago, he requested a tourist visa to visit his brother who works in an amusement park in New York, but was denied. Reflecting his disappointment over how the revolution, which united thousands of Muslims and Christians alike, has transpired.

“All Egyptians, by nature, are kind (but) circumstances are now making everything bad, so I am afraid of you and you are afraid of me.  And because of the fear within you, you become bad,” Attiya said.“We all hoped for the best, but no one knows now what will happen,” he said.

Egyptians, including thousands of Muslims, now opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood government demonstrate and strike almost daily. The country’s military and other security forces have been at odds with the new government, and at times have withdrawn completely from different cities around the country. The resulting state of instability, decaying economy and rise in crime have scared many Egyptians into leaving, or trying to — not least of all Egyptian Christians who say they are easy targets when trouble erupts and there is no system in place to protect them.
“They feel if there is an issue, there is vigilante violence,” said Douglas May, a US Catholic priest based in Egypt where he has lived for 18 years.
He said that although there were restrictions on minorities under Mubarak, such as bans on building churches and unauthorized gatherings, Christians felt safer because there was at least a sense the country was under control.
“They feel they are very vulnerable,” May said. “They are surrounded by the (Muslim) majority (and) they no longer feel comfortable.” He equated the Christian situation to those of American blacks before the civil-rights movement, “because there is no system that protects them.”
In Egypt’s regions south of Cairo, for example, kidnappings of Christians are increasingly common. The Associated Press reports more than 150 kidnappings have been reported in the southern province of Minya since the revolution. The kidnappers mostly are criminals motivated by ransom, not religion. But they roam freely, according to minority advocates, because they have little fear they will be held accountable for crimes against the Christian minority.
“The state has made Christian blood cheap,” Father Estephanos of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Samalout, about 80 miles south of Cairo, told the AP.
Reports issued by human-rights agencies, as well as the U.S. State Department, conclude government security forces have failed to prevent or stop violence involving Christians in several instances since the revolution. They make special note of an October 9th, 2011 peaceful demonstration made up of mostly Christians in front of the country’s national television building, Maspero, which resulted in as many as 28 deaths.
Sunday’s violence at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo is part of a general collapse of security in Egypt, and evidence that the ruling Muslim Brotherhood is unable to manage the country, said Alfred Raouf, a Christian computer engineer and founding member of Al Dostour, an Egyptian opposition party based on secular principles.

“All this sectarian tension is the product of the (former Presidents) Sadat and Mubarak … who allowed the Islamists to preach hate” of Christians and other non-Muslims, Raouf said. The tension, he said, affects all of Egyptians, Muslims and Christian.“I don’t think Christians are suffering more than Muslims,” he said.

Measured in applications to leave Egypt, the distress is being felt by all Egyptians, according to a European diplomat based in Cairo. Speaking on condition of anonymity, she said it was “most likely” a desire for security and economic well-being that had led to an increased demand at her embassy for visas she said were being sought by “Christians as well as Muslims.”  She declined to say how many requests her embassy had received recently, or how they could be religiously broken down, but she insisted it was “too easy” to assume Christians were leaving due to religious persecution, suggesting they, as their Muslim compatriots, were seeking “better security and economic opportunities” in other countries, including hers.
There are no official figures for how many Christians have left Egypt since the revolution, though estimates range as high as in the tens of thousands.

“When there is no clarity, rumors abound,” said Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak, Patriarch of Egypt’s estimated 250,000 Coptic Catholics. “There are those saying hundreds of thousands, others saying thousands, but there are people leaving, this we know and not only Christians, Muslims are leaving as well.”

He and other Christian leaders, including Pope Tawadros, have publicly called on their communities “not to be afraid,” and to “pray for stability and peace in the homeland.” But some have also admitted that convincing their communities to stay is becoming harder to do.

“I don’t have what is needed to convince them not to travel abroad,” Sedrak said. “All I can do is to tell them we are here in our country, (and) we have a message. Yes, we have difficulties here, but there are difficulties outside too.”
Salah, a 35-year-old father of four, said it was hard to imagine a life more difficult than the one he already knows in Manshiyat Naser, the impoverished slum on the outskirts of Cairo where he lives among thousands of others of the city’s Christian garbage collectors.

Providing only his first name, Salah said Muslim thugs attacked the area in March 2011, after Christians there had protested the burning down of a church in another Cairo neighborhood a few days before.

He recounted that military forces on hand had watched as the thugs looted and torched Christian homes in the violence.

“Houses burned, and families were destroyed and nine Christians were killed and I don’t know how many were wounded,” Salah said of the event, which local and international Human Rights groups documented at the time.

Afraid ever since, he has stopped collecting garbage outside the neighborhood, and tries to live off what he can make selling locally the coat hangers he produces from scrap plastic.  He also gets occasional help with food from a church in the neighborhood.

Salah said one of his relatives has applied “20 times” for permanent-resident status in the United States. He said he dreams of leaving too, but doesn’t think he’d be able.  He is illiterate, he said, and raising his four young children alone, after his wife died giving birth three years ago.

“Many (Christians) want to leave,” Salah said, “but their possibilities are limited.” Source

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