They Cry in Silence Jan/Feb 2014

CAIRO, EGYPT—The wounded mother of a 12-year-old girl killed at a Christian church wedding in October in suburban Cairo, Egypt, lay in a hospital bed recently, lost in anguish. Her daughter, Mariam Nabil Fahmy Azer, was shot dead in an attack that killed three other wedding guests.

“Mariam! Oh, God, why did You take her from me? Why did You give me two daughters and then take one from me?” Howida Azer cried. “Thank you, God. Please forgive me, God. I can’t take any more of this.”

Azer’s daughter was one of two girls killed in a drive-by, machine-gun attack on Coptic Christians who were filing into the church for a wedding. The other was 8-year-old Mariam Ashraf Mesiha, Mariam’s cousin.

The attack came amid weeks of anti-Christian violence by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. Muslim Brotherhood members and other supporters blame Christians for his ouster.

Camilia Helmy Attyia, 62, the mother of the groom, died on the pavement outside the church. Samir Fahmy Azer, 46, died on the way to the hospital, as did the girls, according to family members; he was the brother of Howida’s husband.

Hours after two men on a motorcycle sprayed the crowd outside the church with bullets, the couple was married very late that night, dressed in mourning black, the groom’s brother told Morning Star News. Three people attended the ceremony.

At the Armed Forces Hospital in Maadi, the fifth floor was full with members of the bride’s family, who believe they must turn to God.

The family has been unable to tell Howida’s husband, Nabil Fahmy Azer, 40, also injured, about the death of his daughter. Since learning about the killing of his brother and his niece, he has been unable to speak.

Because of the near-constant presence of his daughter’s image in news media around the country, no magazines or newspapers are allowed near him; and any television sets, radios or Internet sources around him remain silent.

How his faith confronts the trauma he’s suffered remains to be seen, while the faith of others is more apparent. Most of those injured in the ward were men, with bullet wounds to their legs. One critical exception was Ashraf Ayad Attyia, 33, who was shot through the neck. Miraculously, the bullet passed completely through without severing his larynx, arteries, or spinal column.

Even though he was still in pain, he smiled and admitted he realized how lucky he was to be alive. “I thank God for sparing my life,” Attyia said.

Awad Botros Khalil, 40, a self-professed “nominal Christian,” said the shooting convicted him of his lack of faith. He was hit in his right leg. The bullet went in and severed three veins just above his foot, which he now cannot move. In a country where attending church services can mean death, he said he needed to “step up” to what he is supposed to be spiritually.

“When I was shot, almost dying and seeing the love of God and people around me, I know now I need to get close to God,” Khalil said.

Members of the Azer family said they feel Copts in Egypt are being attacked as a people, but that the assaults make their faith stronger. Rev. Sawaris Boushra was in the church library when the shooting started. “Christianity is based on persecution,” he said. “Christ said there would come a time when people will kill Christians and think they are doing God’s will. That is happening now.”

by Morning Star News
(morningstarnews.org)

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