10/10/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – For Christians living in Egypt, the possibility of violence is a daily reality. For Youssef, the father of two young girls, anti-Christian violence has dramatically shaped his life.
Youssef lives in the village of Tawa, where he was able to support his family through his photography and teaching skills. But all of that changed last September, when a mob of hardline Islamic extremists tore through his village. The mob was angry against Christians because a believer had made a social media post five months prior, expressing sorrow and frustration about the murder of dozens of Christians in the Minya bus attacks.
Even though the social media post was deleted the day after it was published and five months had since passed, the Islamic hardliners were angry. They said that the post was an insult to Islam, and every Christian in Tawa was to blame. They tore through the village, attacking Christian homes and shops, including Youssef’s photography studio. He couldn’t believe it. “I was shocked that many blocks were thrown towards me, so I got out of my workplace. I was hurt and injured.”
He told International Christian Concern (ICC) that before the attack, “there was peace in the village. No violence and no pain.” Relationships between Christians and Muslims were so good that even veiled Muslim women would come to his studio for photos. But now, his business was gone. “I never expected that something like that would happen in my workplace.”
Youssef struggled to provide for his family with only his teacher’s salary. He tried working harder to show his value to the school, but was never promoted. Then he “recognized that… most of my colleagues were upgraded as supervisors or headmasters. And I was still a teacher.” Thankfully, his shop was not heavily damaged, but he could not reopen the studio could without the proper equipment, which had been destroyed. This is where ICC stepped in.
ICC traveled to Tawa to meet with Youssef and helped him locate the equipment needed to restore his main source of income. We helped Youssef purchase a new camera, the cornerstone of his photography business. Youssef was amazed that someone would travel all of the way to Tawa to help him. “Now, I have a better camera! It includes an amazing specification for shooting videos, may it help me better,” he told ICC.
With his business restored, Youssef is hopeful that the new camera will help him grow his business to a new level by developing a client base in the city, not only the villages. “It’s expensive and hard to achieve,” Youssef said. But through the restoration of his small business, he has realized that he “can pursue my dreams, step by step.”
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