» 09/13/2013, 00.00
EGYPT - ITALY
Mikail, a young Coptic who fled Minya: Christians persecuted by Muslim Brotherhood, but also Mubarak
Mikail , escaped from his country 20 days ago, hoping for political asylum in Italy as a refugee. "My store was burned and family threatened – he tells AsiaNews - but the recent retaliation is the result of an ongoing discrimination. Christians have always suffered violence and intimidation and the authorities under all presidents have remained indifferent".
Rome (AsiaNews) -
Mikail, a 23 year old Coptic Egyptian, left his country to seek political
asylum in Italy. He
is originally from Minya, one of the cities of Upper Egypt in which, after the
overthrow of Mohammed Morsi, the Islamist retaliation against Christians has
been particularly cruel. "At
least 50 churches were destroyed - he tells AsiaNews - our homes and our stores
have been marked with a cross. I had a carpenters shop and it was set on fire
on Friday, the day of prayer for Muslims, the Georges supermarket (his friend
and traveling companion ed.) was set alight in front of his eyes. "
describes another Egypt, one in which - in spite of the media exaltation - the
fall of Hosni Mubarak and overthrow of Mohammed Morsi have had a negligible
weight on the difficulties that Christian minority is forced to deal with every
day . "Under
Morsi the economy collapsed and Islamists have had more freedom - he explains -
with Mubarak maybe there was more security for us Copts because the Brotherhood
was relegated to illegality , but on a social level , nothing has changed
he continues: "The percentage of Muslim democrats is poor and of little
influence , the police still do not listen to our complaints , the problem is deeply
story shows that the violence against the Christian minority has escalated in
recent months. But
it was already a nationwide reality long before the Brotherhood ascended to
the 30-year dictatorship of Mubarak kept taps on radical Islam , discrimination
and hostility have always marked the relationship between faith groups
especially in the south of the country. "
In Egypt, it is forbidden to build churches , a ban that was in force under
Mubarak and continues to exist - says the young man - three years ago, a cousin
in Giza spent 40 days in jail because he was helping to build a parish; the police
killed two Christians then and the news was reported on websites . "
then tells of when he served his compulsory military service in Salloum , on
the Libyan border , the only Christian among over a thousand recruits : "
My superior was a Muslim and often punished me making me stand at attention for
hours. I had no right to return home like the others just
because I am Coptic . He also remembers
when he managed to escape an assassination attempt while he was returning from
the service: "They tried to stab me - he says pointing to two scars on his
wrists - I was stopped by 4 Islamists who wanted to rob me and kill me."
left Cairo by plane on 18 August. Prior
to that date had already tried to reach the capital, but had been stopped by a
checkpoint of the Brotherhood and sent back home. "They
saw that we were Christians - he said showing the cross that is always tied
around his neck and tattooed on his wrist - they stole everything and sent me back
to Minya ." The
second attempt was instead by train and then by plane to Rome. "Our
visa was for Georgia with a stopover in Italy , but once here asked for
political asylum ." He
and his friend Georges are now looking for a job in Rome to send money to their
families, while waiting for their asylum claim to be assessed by Italian
Delga, Islamists threaten Christians: "When the army leaves we will destroy everything"
The Muslim Brotherhood visits the houses of the Copts and force them to exonerate the group for recent violence. Those who do not sign will be killed after the army leaves. Since 18 September last the city which has been a refuge for thousands of extremists, is under military curfew.
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