Book THREE - The Daughters of Day

A Taste of What Lies Ahead – A Further Dip into Book 3

Iranian_flag_during_green_movement_Demonstration“At the heart of the story is never to choose the physically strong and verbally articulate over the one who may look weaker, but has within them the far greater powers. That is you, my dear, Nargess. Sorry Monas.  And the other thing to take from the story is to always be hospitable to strangers. You never know who they may be and how they may help you?”

“Like, because one day the enemy may have to be your friend?” said Nargess.

“And vice versa” said Monas. “We have a saying in the Book of Hebrews 13:2: never ever forget to entertain the stranger. Maybe we were all strangers once.”

“You have been in contact with my colleague in the UK, Monas?” asked the Abbot.

“I have had that pleasure, Abbot, Bishop Angaelos.”

“I was telling him recently that we had an incident here in one of our churches, where the flag of al-Qaeda was raised on church property while worshippers hid inside.”

“We were aware that several human rights groups have criticised Egypt’s authorities for failing to protect Christians” said Nargess. “As well as the Americans working here in Egypt” she added.

“Some Islamists say our Church backed the removal of President Morsi” said the Abbot. Personally, I don’t mind what kind of government leads Egypt – even an Islamist one – as long as individual rights are respected and the country is able to flourish. Maybe you would identify with that approach, Nargess? We have reached a stage now where our new leader, Pope Tawadros II, has actually cancelled some public events in church here, because of the worsening security situation. He is concerned about the risk of potential attacks on our Coptic congregations. But you see, Egypt’s Christians have long been a target for disaffected Islamists, many of whom now openly accuse the Church of playing a role in the recent removal of Mohammed Morsi, but when the chief of the army, General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi went on television to announce that President Morsi had been removed from power, Pope Tawadros and Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Cairo’s ancient seat of Muslim learning, both made supportive statements. Our Pope said that the “roadmap” mentioned by the General had been devised by honourable people, who had Egypt’s best interests at heart. Some Islamists took this as a sign that the Church had conspired somehow, in their leader’s overthrow.

Nargess asked “is it true Abbot, that homes and businesses have been destroyed with callers to TV shows openly demanding the eradication of non-Muslims? I understand that last Wednesday, sixteen Egyptian human rights organisations denounced the Government’s failure to protect the Copts, and said Muslim Brotherhood leaders were using hate speech to make political gains? The groups said that the traditional method of stopping violent attacks by using mediation was not working. Apparently they have called for an independent investigation into why Christians and their property are not being adequately protected by the security forces.”

“Is this what caused the problems at the monastery?” asked Monas

The Abbot took in a deep breath, “when the monks had asked for protection, the military told us to fend for ourselves. We then built a brick wall with a metal gate to control access to the monastery grounds. The army later claimed the monastery had not acquired the proper permits and issued a deadline for the wall to be torn down. Our monks refused to demolish the wall, and the army moved in. At least two monks were arrested in the attack but have since been released. Maybe not by coincidence, may God forgive me, on the same day, the army also attacked the Anba Makarious Al Sakandarie Monastery in Al Fayoum, 130 kilometers (80 miles) southwest from Cairo. In much the same fashion, the army knocked down a wall the monks had built during the national demonstrations. The monks said they built the wall also to protect themselves from attacks. The army claimed the wall was built on land set aside for a nature preserve. And there have been other scattered incidents throughout Egypt in which anti-Christian persecution has been, at minimum, a contributing factor in the attacks. That is all I know.”

“What were the real reasons for what is happening here, Abbot? asked Nargess.

The Abbot collapsed into a seat, exhausted “Here and maybe elsewhere, the real reason I can tell you now, God help us, is that the military were looking for someone. That someone was, we assumed, a patient here who we were caring for. A political activist. It happens a lot, someone who was on the run. Monasteries are great refuges for the strangers of the world, eh, Monas? Anyway, we thought it was one of the patients, until one day last week we discovered who it was. It was Martha.”



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