NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Rena Effendi
While meeting with Christian families who lost family members during the recent sectarian clashes in Cairo, I often get the question: “What religion are you?” Over fresh strawberry juice I tried to explain myself to the family of 42-year old Migali Mounir, father of four children, who was crushed by a military vehicle in front of the Maspero TV building, after thousands of Christians protested the church attack in Aswan. My answer sometimes sounds strange even to myself:
“I grew up in an ethnically Muslim country where religion was forbidden for 75 years during Soviet Union. My father was a Darwinist, my mother – an atheist. I have never prayed in a mosque or a church.” Their next question is: – “Do you believe in God?” I answer: “Sometimes, when I feel things are spinning out of control, I cringe and call out to something, anything which can give me hope.” “Ah”, they say, “then you believe in God.” Especially with the recurrent violence in Egypt, I feel that faith has more to do with a relief from suffering than a path to forgiveness, as a deeply human rather than religious sentiment.
Caption: Wife and children of Migali Mounir, 42 y.o. at home. He was crushed by a military vehicle in front of Maspero TV building on October 9 when thousands of Christians joined a march from Shobra protesting against an attack on a church in Aswan. January, 2012, Cairo, Egypt.