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CAPTURING THE PAIN OF ONE DAHSHUR COPTIC FAMILY AFTER THE VIOLENCE ON 1 AUGUST 2012 BY A MUSLIM MOB – THE BRILLIANT GEORGES & SAMUEL PHOTOGRAPHY

August 11, 2012

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On 1 August 2012, Muslim fanatics sacked homes of the Coptic community in Dahshur, Egypt, destroying most of them, attempting to burn down its church, terrorising the poor Christian villagers, and forcing them out of the area.

More than a week later, some families returned to inspect what has become of “home” – the lenses of two Coptic brothers, Georges & Samuel, was there; and it captured the emotions of the members of one Coptic family.

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Many of my readers know Dahshur or Dashur (دهشور), which is located in the desert on the west bank of the Nile, some 40 miles south of Cairo, from its famous pyramids, particularly the Bent Pyramid and Red Pyramid,[1] and its Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom necropolis.

Recently, it gained notoriety because of the violence against Copts that erupted on 1 August 2012, when Muslims, using a casual quarrel between two Egyptians, one Copt and one Muslim, sacked Coptic homes in Dahshur village, and forced the entire Coptic community, some 120 families, to leave the area, fleeing for their lives.

I will let journalist Michael Terheyden tell the story in the article which he wrote for Catholic Online (7 August 2012):

Much of the Coptic Christian community in the city of Dahshur went up in smoke last week. Dahshur is located about 40 kilometers south of Cairo, and it is known for its ancient pyramids. This incident is being reported as the worst since Muslim mobs clashed with the Copts in Imbaba, Giza over a year ago. It is also being seen as the first great test of the newly elected president of Egypt, Mohamed Mursi, and his Muslim Brotherhood.

The violence in Dahshur began on July 27 when a Coptic launderer, Sameh Samy accidentally burned the shirt of a Muslim client, Ahmad Ramadan. They agreed to settle the claim that evening, but Ramadan came back later that afternoon joined by 2000 to 3000 armed Muslims. Samy locked himself within his home. Both sides began fighting. They threw Molotov cocktails at each other. Samy threw one from the roof of his house, and it hit a passerby, 25-year-old Moaz Hasab-Allah, who incurred third-degree burns. This tragedy apparently quelled the fighting that day. Moaz was taken to a Cairo hospital where he died five days later on the morning of August 1.

According to reports his father said, “the whole village will avenge his death.” He added, “destroying Coptic property is not enough and that Copt[s] have to ‘pay for [his] son’s death’ with lives.” Maariam Ragy, a Copt, said that a Muslim-Brotherhood cleric roamed the village after Moaz’s death “vowing that the village church of St. George will be burned down, its pastor and all the entire Christian inhabitants killed and their homes torched after the burial of Moaz tonight.” And so it went. Hundreds of Muslims began looting and burning Coptic businesses and homes after the burial.

Over 120 Coptic families were forced out of their homes, virtually the whole Coptic community in Dahshur. Father Takla, the priest of St. George’s Church in Dahshur, believes about 100 homes were burned. He said, “Approximately 20 homes were spared due to their approximate location to the church which is heavily guarded by security forces.” He also said, “. . . over 500 moderate village Muslims stopped the Salafist mob from storming the church, until security forces arrived and secured it.

The mob also attacked Samy, his father and his brother during the rampage. Both Samy and his father were injured in the attack. All three were later arrested and charged with murder and possession of explosives. Although five arrest warrants were issued for Muslims, none have been arrested.

People cannot live like this! Samy lives under constant fear that he is going to be attacked for the slightest mistake. There are no objective standards he can rely upon. He is subject to the impulses of his Muslim neighbors. He cannot reasonably count on his government to protect him or his property. He has no reasonable or effective recourse. He lives in a surreal world filled with lies, manipulation, betrayal, threats, and violence. Although violence must always be a last resort, we can understand his fear and his anger and his right to defend himself and his property.[2]

But this article is not about telling in letters the story of the Dahshur Muslim violence against the Copts and their collective punishment, which is a recurrent issue – it is, however, about a visual report of the effects of this violence on one of the Coptic families that had its home sacked and was forced to evacuate Dahshur, but then returned after more than a week to check what has been left: the brilliant photography by the talented Coptic brothers, Georges and Samuel Mohsen, reveal it all – the pain, the sadness, the loss, the frustration, the anger, the insecurity and the fear on the faces of this poor Coptic family, which has to start from scratch rebuilding its life. I simply reproduce these artistic pictures with the captions the two photographers have chosen for them, which in themselves are very poetic and expressive (I have only added little, in italic, to Fig. 1):

 Figure 1: “Home”… is the only place where you are completely secure… the only place where you can be yourself, and nothing but yourself… accepted as you are…. But have they left us any place we could call home?

 Figure 2: What if I had no home? What if I have no place to lay my head? What if my children were not allowed to dream or to have a sleep with no dreams? Constant running and escape… Either not to sleep or sleep with nightmares?

 Figure 3: Should we stay helpless? Should we wait? Will the light ever come in again ?

 Figure 4: Can they steal your Past and intrude in your memories? Can they ruin your Present and reshape your life? Can they make you fear your Future?

 Figure 5: Throw your clothes, throw your papers, throw your furniture… Throw your home… Throw yourself!

 Figure 6: Your Sleep, your Dreams and your Faith are not yours… You should sleep the way we sleep, dream our dreams and believe our beliefs… It’s not about “You”, there is no “You”… It is all about “Us”…

 Figure 7: Security is what you lack, because security comes from within You, and there is no “You” !


[1] The two pyramids were built by King Sneferu (2613 – 2589 BC), of the Old King, and father of the famous Pharaoh, King Khufu.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 11, 2012 1:35 pm

    Hi Dioscores.

    Linked your story.
    A picture does tell a thousand words.
    Will.

  2. Dioscorus Boles permalink
    August 12, 2012 9:40 am

    Thanks, Will.

  3. August 18, 2012 11:36 pm

    Hi Dioscorus.

    I would like to include the devastating pictures and captions that you posted in an article I am preparing for the Emperor’s Clothes (tenc.net) newsletter, critiquing a very bad piece that Associated Press published on the Dahshur nightmare. (The AP presents it as the spontaneous consequence of festering sectarian divisions — their words — and makes it sound as if Mr. Samy brought the mob violence on himself: “The violence was ultimately rooted in a dispute over a badly ironed shirt that escalated into a fight in which a Muslim was burned to death, sparking the rampage by angry Muslims.” (AP) So, apparently, according to the AP, Samy burned a customer to death, which made people angry, so they attacked his house. Interestingly, ikhwanweb.org takes the same line. Maybe they use the same tip sheet?

    I would credit the photographers and you in full. The Newsletter goes to thousands of people, and I think some (many?) would check out your most informative website, so maybe you’d get some new readers. :-) Anyway, I wasn’t sure whether you would want the pictures and captions reproduced, so I thought I better ask.

    Our email address is emperorsclothes@tenc.net

    Best regards,
    Jared Israel

    • Dioscorus Boles permalink
      August 18, 2012 11:54 pm

      Dear Jared, you are welcome to use the pictures and text in your article. In fact I would be grateful, for you will be helping our cause. Unfortunately, the AP and Reuters often rely on local reporters and correspondents who are not well trained and, worse still, often tainted with the cultural prejudice of the wider Muslim society. Another reason as to why the media and politicians often represent violent attacks against the Copts as clashes between Copts and Muslims is their fear of being accused of religious bigotry. Even when the Egyptian army killed over 24 Copts and injured hundreds in the Maspero Massacre on 9 October 2011, news agents came out describing the pogrom as clashes between Copts and Muslims, and Barak Obama and William Hague urged “both sides to exercise control!”

      Thanks again for taking the interest.
      Sincerely yours,
      Dioscorus

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