Egypt’s Collision of Security and Freedom: Part 2
By Emma Reeves
In case you missed it, you can read Part 1 here.
07/07/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – As Egypt grapples with terrorist insurgencies and the outbreak of COVID-19, security measures have grown. While the country’s safety is essential, many Egyptians fear the nation’s trajectory toward a police state. This runs parallel to voices calling for reforms in emergency readiness procedures, better hospital supplies, as well as increased salaries and funding. Others call for better scientific research programs and health education in the school systems.
“The priority of the country should be in developing economics and health education targeting the preschool kids (as COVID-19 showed that Egyptians don’t have any awareness),” said Morcos, a Minya resident.
COVID-19 has highlighted the difficulties that Christians face within Egypt. Christians are treated as second-class citizens, barring them from equal access to necessary resources and pushing them into deeper poverty. ICC’s Hope House has seen firsthand the effects of this pandemic on poorer Christian communities.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Hope House children lost four months of education, with 25 percent of families paying for their children to pass their grades. More concerning, 38 percent of children reported symptoms of depression and anxiety, as many families lost jobs and now struggle to find food each week.
“The expenses are so much and there is not enough income. My son stopped working because of the coronavirus situation,” said one father.
“My husband owns a donkey… Before the corona situation, the work chances were few,” a mother told ICC. “Now there are no chances anymore. Thank God that He helps us now.”
Following the coronavirus, 80 percent of adults told ICC they experienced an abrupt loss of income. This also led to about 20 percent of adults needing their young children to work for them, increasing the risk of kids contracting the disease. Child labor also makes them more vulnerable to other types of exploitation.
The families of Hope House are only a fraction of the many Egyptian Christians profoundly affected by the coronavirus. Luckily, the pandemic has led to a call for better health and safety procedures in the future, as well as greater resources for the medical field.
“Our priorities are that we have to call for more attention to the health system and provide the hospitals with its requirements, paying attention to physical [and] financial sides and supporting the citizens,” noted Omiel from Minya. “Paying attention to the educational side and technological one, developing and mechanizing the public services. Also supporting the medicine faculty and its graduates.”
Some of the older generation of Egyptians also hope for a sharper focus on rebuilding the economy. Dr. Hany of Cairo calls for Egypt to “concentrate about economic development and recover the damage in tourism section. Also return to the high speed of achievement in national projects and help Egyptians who lost their jobs in the Gulf area to return to their jobs. And lastly, make a balance between returning to normal pace of living and preparing also for another round of COVID-19.”
Despite differences in exact focus, the overall feeling of several Egyptian Christians is that the country should be focusing on more than security forces and emergency measures. The situation calls for a deeper conversation and long-term solutions, not just security force. Communities in Egypt need rebuilding, not left to salvage what’s left in the rubble.
Stay tuned for Part 3, coming tomorrow.