Cairo

Another attack on Copts in Egypt: Once again, the details make the horrors even worse

Another attack on Copts in Egypt: Once again, the details make the horrors even worse

Another bombing in a Coptic Orthodox sanctuary in Egypt, with at least 25 dead and that stunning number is expected to rise.

People, please allow me to speak as an Orthodox Christian for a moment. During recent years, it has been hard not to dwell on the hellish stories coming out of Iraq and Syria, with the Islamic State crushing Christians, Yazidis, traditional Muslims and members of other religious minorities. Ancient monasteries and churches, with irreplaceable libraries and works of sacred art, have vanished from the face of the earth.

It has been easy to overlook the horrors that have continued to unfold in Nigeria, Pakistan, Egypt and elsewhere. In my own daily prayers, I have continued to pray for those dying in these lands, as well as in the ISIS zone. Quite frankly, it is easy to slide into despair about all of this.

The mainstream press coverage of this attack has been very straightforward and has -- appropriately so -- shown that Coptic believers, once again, are caught in a clash between two Islamic factions inside the tense religious and political culture of Egypt. The only confusion in the coverage concerns some basic and crucial facts, as in the specific location of the attack and why the vast majority of the dead were women and children.

So which church was bombed? Let's start with The New York Times, which has the actual location of the attack wrong:

CAIRO -- A bomb ripped through a section reserved for women at Cairo’s main Coptic cathedral during Sunday morning Mass, killing at least 25 people and wounding 49, mostly women and children, Egyptian state media said.
The attack was the deadliest against Egypt’s Christian minority in years. Video from the blast site circulating on social media showed blood-smeared floors and shattered pews among the marble pillars at St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, the seat of Egypt’s Orthodox Christian Church, where the blast occurred in a chapel adjacent to the main building.

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A stunning (and haunted) work of public art in honor of Cairo's famous garbage collectors

A stunning (and haunted) work of public art in honor of Cairo's famous garbage collectors

Now, here is a very beautiful and unusual story set in Egypt, one describing an astonishingly ambitious work of public art in a highly unusual place.

When I saw the headline -- "Sprawling Mural Pays Homage to Cairo’s Garbage Collectors" -- I immediately wondered if foreign desk at The New York Times was going to nail down the obvious religion hook in this story. Yes, this story contains a powerful religion ghost.

The headline raises two questions right off, one very obvious and one not so obvious: Who are the garbage collectors of Cairo? The second question: The implication of this tribute is that there is some organized or even natural mass of people who collect garbage in one of the most important cities in the Muslim world. Why is this?

Sure enough, there is a strong hint at the religion content at the very top:

CAIRO -- The intricate mural took shape over the past few weeks, little noticed at first, spreading across a harried quarter of Cairo where Egypt’s garbage collectors live, amid overflowing bundles of this overcrowded city’s trash.
By the time the painting was finished two weeks ago, it stretched across more than 50 buildings, making it the largest public work of art here anyone can recall. The mural, a circle of orange, white and blue in Arabic calligraphy, quotes a third-century Coptic Christian bishop who said, “If one wants to see the light of the sun, he must wipe his eyes.”
When the first photographs of the mural circulated, reactions ranged from astonished delight to disbelief. Some people, struck by its seemingly impossible scale, seemed convinced that the images had been digitally altered, according to the man behind the project, a Tunisian-French artist known as eL Seed.

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Antisemitism and when context matters for the NY Times

This week, the conservative Weekly Standard broke a story that was headlined: Michelle Obama and John Kerry to Honor Anti-Semite and 9/11 Fan. Written by Samuel Tadros, the story explains that an award was going to be given today from the U.S. State Department to a Muslim woman from Egypt:

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