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The Fight for Egypt's Future
Image: Photo by Jeremy Weber
The Fight for Egypt's Future

To see how Egypt's revolution has changed the lives of its 8 million Copts (Egyptian Christians), walk one block from its epicenter: Tahrir Square.

Pass between the effigies hanging from street lamps, past the ramshackle tents of demonstrators, and turn right at the graffiti-covered concrete blocks barricading the newly elected parliament and loathed police headquarters.

Here sits the largest evangelical Arabic-speaking church in the world—6,000-member Kasr El Dobara (KDEC). The sturdy white sanctuary, lined with tall stained-glass windows depicting New Testament stories of Jesus, is half full on the Sunday evening before the first anniversary of military dictator Hosni Mubarak's February 11 downfall. Attendance is low. Four days earlier, more than 70 soccer fans were massacred in the coastal city of Port Said. A short distance away, angry demonstrators clash with police.

Flanked by two Egyptian flags, head pastor Sameh Maurice preaches from 2 Peter. Just beyond the sanctuary's heavy oak front doors, volunteer doctors treat a wounded demonstrator on a metal cot. Church members used to share coffee and conversation in the open air of the tiled courtyard. Now KDEC runs a 24/7 field hospital for the wounded.

The service ends with the Lord's Prayer and instructions for members to exit through the church's back entrance—tear gas is in the air in front. A short time later, a wailing ambulance arrives, delivering six young men. One clutches his wrist; another reveals a back peppered with birdshot. Another will probably lose his eye.

Violence Strikes Home

The following night, the violence touches the church family. A KDEC teenager is shot near Tahrir. News spreads that someone kidnapped the daughter of a church member. Another ...

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The Fight for Egypt's Future
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In the Magazine

June 2012

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