The Girl with the Cross Tattoo and the Hashtag That Celebrated the Death of Egypt’s Christians
[Op-Ed]: As Egypt's Christian community mourns its victims in Minya, some rejoice and champion the terrorists for the heroes they believe them to be. A rude awakening to The Girl with the Christian Tattoo.
Following last week's attack, which killed 29 Egyptian Christians in Minya on Friday, I am now more painfully aware that we are persecuted and oppressed as a minority in this country. Minority. It’s a word I hear very often but never really identified with - although I’ve always been one - given that we constitute 10 percent of the Egyptian population. I feel like identifying with the word is a byproduct of feeling like a member of the weaker group, like we’re the smaller kid in the playground.
Soon after the slaughter, the hashtag المنيا_بتفرح# (Minya Rejoices) was trending on social media. "The brothers attacked the bus and photographed the entire operation, and there are pictures of the slaughter. Terrorism is so violent,“ one post reads, topping it off with not one, but two laughing emojis.
As horrified as I am, these attacks do not come as a surprise to me. We are told through the Bible that some of us will be killed and persecuted for our faith. This does not in any way make this any less inhumane. It does not take away from our right to exist peacefully in our country without being killed for reasons that are the furthest thing from Godly. What is also gut-wrenching are people’s reactions to these attacks. There is an overwhelmingly silent majority who don’t seem to care. And those who do, don’t seem to care enough to take the time to process and grieve and mourn.
The lack of measures taken to end this persecution speaks volumes of what seems to be society’s true feelings towards this particular minority. A few hours after the attack, people were already moving on to the next topic of discussion like it never even happened, like the murder of Christians, of your friends and neighbours, is not enough of a tragedy to take action over. Although, recent events testify to the fact that when Egyptians want to stand for a cause, everyone in the country with an Internet connection and a Facebook account will know about it.
Someone at the hospital said you deserve what’s happening to you, but honestly he was hit but he deserved it. When we were standing in front of a church, someone passing by in a car slowed down and said, "may you live and get hit, and we will always keep hitting you," and then he drove off slowly. Not to mention people who were watching from their balconies and laughing.
Egypt is supposed to be my home. And home means family. And in ordinary circumstances, when a person dies, their family mourns. In this scenario, my family is celebrating. My family is celebrating the death of those who share my faith. In a few days, months, or even years, my family could be celebrating my death as a Christian. It’s such a difficult thing, to feel like the only place you call home does not think of you as family.
It’s hard to feel like the persecuted enemy in a battle you did not initiate and do not want to be part of. I feel like a stranger in my own country. I feel like a foreigner in my own home. I feel like a target in my own camp.
I never viewed being different from the majority negatively, in fact, I always wore my faith proudly and didn’t mind being set apart because of it; but the feeling is different now. It’s tainted with blood and hatred. It’s tarnished with the sorrow of rejection, oppression, fear, and alienation.
How far is this going to escalate? Where is this going? Where is this hatred taking us? I’m having a difficult time digesting the thought that a human being could celebrate the tragic death of another on the basis of what they believe to be piety.
A Facebook post calling the victims as mules and crusaders, ending with, "this is just the beginning, Allahu Akbar"
In these times of sorrow, I don’t find any hatred in my heart for those who do this. I am furious. I am sad. I am scared. I am disappointed, but I am not hateful. My prayer is for those who carry out these acts thinking they are offering God a service to come to the realisation that whatever stems from hatred, from anger, from oppression, does not stem from Him, and that anything done in the name of God should be done out of love.
So no, El Minya does not celebrate the death of those who were killed. El Minya grieves. El Minya bleeds. El Minya mourns. They did get one thing right, though. There is cause for celebration after last Friday’s attacks. There is reason to be joyful. However, the joy is not in their death, the joy is in their return to their home, to where they belong.
El Minya mourns, on Earth we mourn. But Heaven…Heaven celebrates.
And I, for one, can’t wait to join the party.
The views expressed in this op-ed are the author's and don't necessarily reflect CairoScene's.