Features

Egypt burns

"Egypt burns" Continued...

Issue: "Back to School," Sept. 7, 2013

For now, many Egyptians say they will move forward, though that likely means business and everyday life will continue to suffer. Salama—the tour guide in Cairo—knows his business will decline further. It’s a reality he’s faced for the last two years as tourism, once 10 percent of Egypt’s economy, has plummeted. 

When I visited Egypt last year, Salama’s enthusiastic voice swelled as he explained the wonders of the pyramids and the elaborate contents of King Tut’s tomb. He had to remind himself not to shout: The tour had five people, not the usual 15.

By August of this year, business is worse: A few days before the clashes, Salama led a tour in Luxor with just one client. The famed Nile River—usually filled with scores of tour boats—carried only a handful back to Cairo.

It’s a particular grief for a man who loves his country and its capital. Indeed, the city once called “Paris on the Nile” boasts a remarkable blend of French and Middle Eastern architecture, along with a museum filled with artifacts thousands of years old, and colossal pyramids that strike awe in visitors. 

For Christians, the country remains a cradle of ancient Christianity—a place in which Christ found refuge from danger as an infant and a site for some of the earliest churches. For Salama, it’s the place in which his grandfather became a Protestant and started one of the first Presbyterian churches in the country. 

Salama longs to stay in Egypt, even as many Christians are fleeing. (As many as 100,000 Coptic Christians have fled the country in the last two years, along with many evangelicals.) He’s found comfort from his pastor’s recent sermons about God’s protection, and has joined the church in praying for other Egyptians, including pro-Morsi supporters. 

Still, in the days after Egypt’s clashes, Salama couldn’t hide his grief over Egypt’s fires: “My heart is broken for my beloved country.”

Jamie Dean
Jamie Dean

Jamie lives and works in North Carolina, where she covers the national political beat and other topics as news editor for WORLD. Follow Jamie on Twitter @deanworldmag.

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