daniel nour

Stormy Egypt

In Political on July 3, 2015 at 8:19 am

I’ve been in Cairo for barely five days now, but feel that it’s my duty to reveal some of her more intriguing peculiarities. 

Now that Midan al-Tahrir has been cleaned and refurbished , some Egyptians worry that it bears no resemblance to their original square. That simple, dirty, paved, concrete hub for revolution, has now been beautified and sanitised by new grass, and the Government’s intervention. Here I stand before “Mogamaa Tahrir”, a kind of central civil administration office.

The College of Music in Cairo’s Zamalek has an air of chic oriental beauty, and of aging neglect. The suburb has a heavy concentration of foreign diplomats living in Cairo with their families. The suburb is a relic of another age.

St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Zamalek, run by the Columbi community, is full of French nuns and Eritrean Priests. When I left my bag in the aisle to take a phone call outside, I returned to find them fretting over the bulky ominous potentially explosive package left by the swarthy bearded stranger.

Egypt has weathered storms, both literal and figurative in the past few days. Apart from the sandstorm which whipped through Cairo earlier this week, there’s been an earthquake, the murder of Cairo’s public prosecutor Hisham Barakat, and a bomb on the October 6th bridge in the heart of the city.  Dozens of soldiers have been killed in the Sinai peninsula by Islamist militants, to boot.

More to come on all of this in my next post.

Make sure to follow me on twitter @daniel_nour to keep up to speed with my Cairo adventures.

Salam!

Couple of new stories!

In Arab world, Community on May 27, 2015 at 5:39 am

Have been writing up a storm at CRADIO.ORG.AU lately, where I’ve also been interviewing community figures and experts on social or cultural issues, as part of my series, Conversations with Daniel Nour.  My Conversations series tackles hot topics with expert but straightforward analysis.

CRADIO is a leading resource for young Australian Catholics, offering an incredible live stream of music, talks and homilies. Podcasts are available for download via itunes or the Cradio website, and you can stream to your mobile phone or other device via the tunein app. 

Here are a couple of highlights from the last couple of months!

  • My podcast interview with Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay of the Maronite Catholic Eparchy of Australia on the plight of Middle Eastern Christians. An eye opening, frank and important conversation.
  • My story about mounting excitement for the papal encyclical on Climate change and the environment.
  • My story and podcast about Capital Punishment, connected to the execution of two Australian inmates in a Balinese prison.
Iraqi Christians in prayer

Iraqi Christians in prayer

Get to reading and to listening!

Martyrs in Coptic hearts at Good Friday liturgy

In Community, Religion on April 12, 2015 at 7:40 am

Published in the 12/4/2915 edition of the Catholic Weekly.

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 5.29.35 pm

It was with joy and sorrow that Father Youssef Akladious prayed Good Friday’s liturgy at St Mark’s Coptic Catholic parish.

In his homily he spoke of forgiveness, and of hatred. Two relevant themes for Egypt’s Christians this Easter.

Of the 21 young Coptic men murdered by ISIS in Libya, he explained,

“Whenever there is great injustice, the choice to forgive is even greater and more wonderful.”

The ISIS victims, who in February were canonised by Pope Tawadrous, head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Community, have deeply affected Egypt’s Christians.

“Real forgiveness can even be offered to our enemies,” Father Akladious said.

“I saw great stillness in them at the moment of their deaths, they were surely praying,

As a priest, they made me ask myself, would I do the same? Would I die for Christ?” he said.

Moheb Salama, Youth coordinator at St Marks, confirmed that persecution isn’t a new phenomenon for Copts.

“Christians in Egypt have the strongest faith in the Middle East, probably the world.  Their faith increases in proportion to their number of persecutions.”

“I thought, ‘These people know they’re about to be slaughtered, they’re seconds away.’  I looked at my own life, and my own issues, and they were all minor by comparison.”

Equal rights and political protections for Copts have not yet been achieved in Egypt, where civil liberties are generally uncertain.

“The reality in Egypt is that there are safety and stability issues for both Muslims and Christians. We have an improvement to make in regards to the fair execution of the rule of law, and this will take years to achieve…” Father Akladious said.

Last week’s Muslim protest attacks, against villagers in Upper Egypt’s Al-Minya province, confirms this lack of security and protection for Egypt’s Christians. The villagers proposed to build a church to commemorate the 21 martyrs.

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