Pa. Copts urge unity in aid for Christians in Egypt
If Cairo dentist Adel Abdel-Shahid needs anything right now, it's simple things that most people outside Egypt would take for granted.
He has asked his nephew Mark Matta, 36, of New Castle for antiseptic mouthwash.
“It's too expensive,” Matta said. “It's almost triple what it costs here.”
As Coptic Christian churches in Pennsylvania grapple with events of the past week — attackers struck more than 60 churches, vandalizing or burning them — they are just beginning to discuss sending aid to help Egyptians and the churches.
“They need everything,” said Matta, a deacon at St. Mary's Coptic Orthodox Church of Ambridge. “Food, money, simple items.”
As discussions on humanitarian aid get under way, Coptic Christian officials here believe the effort should be unified among American churches.
“We should do something to help our Egyptian brothers,” said the Rev. Bishoy F. Mikhail, pastor at St. Mary's. “But we'll do it in a united way.”
Rebuilding the more than 60 churches will require “help from everyone,” he said.
On Sunday, Coptic Christians in Ambridge got a show of support from the Rev. Michael Kochis, pastor at nearby St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
“Father Michael said he wanted to be part of our efforts,” Matta said. “It was very, very touching ... especially coming from very different cultures and backgrounds.”
“They are our neighbors. We look at the news, and it's so real for them,” Kochis said. “They have friends and relatives there. I wanted them to know they are not forgotten.”
Protesters looted and torched nearly 40 churches in Egypt and heavily damaged 23 others when chaos erupted as Egypt's military-backed interim administration moved in to clear two camps packed with supporters calling for former President Mohamed Morsy's reinstatement.
The action killed scores of protesters and sparked deadly clashes nationwide.
Coptic Christians, one of the world's oldest Christian communities, generally keep a low profile but became more politically active since ex-President Hosni Mubarak's ouster. Christians sought to ensure fair treatment in the aftermath.
Matta said the initial push here will be through political action — lobbying and protesting — to raise awareness of the issue. About 200 Coptic Christians protested the church attacks on Monday in Nashville.
Then there will be detailed discussions about how best to help the Egyptian people and raise money for the effort.
Egyptians hope the West stays out of the dispute and allows them to handle their affairs, he said.
What they need most is a quick return to normalcy, Mikhail said.
“They need to feel that they are safe when they go out and practice their daily life,” he said. “The situation there is still a little bit crazy.”
Craig Smith is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Newsmaker: George J. Zimmerman
- Parking, traffic crunch expected on busy North Shore this weekend
- Attorney General drops charges against ‘upper-level’ heroin dealers, records show
- Monroeville firefighters hope hot photo calendar will help raise money
- Pitt, CMU researchers shed light on how learning works
- Homeowners warned of bogus land surveyors
- Public Utility Commission hearing arguments against Lyft
- Biden in Pittsburgh Thursday for fundraiser
- Italian Village Pizza owners plead guilty to tax evasion, conspiracy
- Western Pennsylvania drivers at bottom of insurer’s safety rankings
- Mystery continues to surround Hill District slaying