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THE INTRIGUING “COPTIC WOMAN” ILLUSTRATION BY LINAS GARSYS – AN INTERPRETATION

July 28, 2012

Figure 1: Coptic Woman, illustration by Linas Garsys.

Linas Garsys is a contemporary American designer and illustrator. He made an illustration which he titled “Coptic Woman” to accompany the article by Rep. Christopher H. Smith, Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, which appeared on The Washington Times (Thursday, 26 July, 2012) under the heading: “Escalating violence against Coptic women and girls. New Egypt could be more dangerous than the old”.

The article dealt with the increasing violence in Egypt against Coptic women and girls, including kidnappings by Muslim men, forced conversions, and other human rights abuses (such as rape, forced marriage, beatings, and domestic servitude while being held by their captors). These abuses have been documented by the George Washington University. For full insight into the magnitude and severity of the problem, the reader must read Smith’s article.[1]

Linas Garsys, I guess, tried to capture the suffering of these Coptic women and girls, who are forced to convert to Islam while in the heart they remain Christian. He dresses the Coptic woman, whose hands are chained, in Muslim garb (hijab, etc.), but over her right hand hovers a Coptic cross, indicating that she is still at heart a Copt. Her head is surrounded by a luminous halo, perhaps indicating her suffering – a suffering that is shared by Coptic saints and martyrs.

Overall, this is an intriguing illustration. Only Linas Garsys can tell us exactly what was in his head when he made that illustration and what he wanted to say by making it, and one hopes that one day he can let us know.

If my interpretation is correct, then we can use this Coptic woman to represent not just Coptic women and girls who are forced to convert to Islam through abduction but all Copts who converted through the centuries to Islam under duress.


[1] http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jul/26/escalating-violence-against-coptic-women-and-girls/

See also: Dioscorus Boles (28 July 2012): REP. CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, CHAIRMAN OF THE U.S. HELSINKI COMMISSION, ON THE TERRIBLE MISTAKE OF AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY ON EGYPT’S FAILURE TO IMPLEMENT POLICIES TO PROTECT RELIGIOUS FREEDOM https://copticliterature.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/rep-christopher-h-smith-chairman-of-the-u-s-helsinki-commission-on-the-terrible-mistake-of-american-foreign-policy-on-egypts-failure-to-implement-policies-to-protect-religious-freedom/

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