Where do I even begin? I’ve been meaning to someday talk about this topic for a really long time, every few months from a different angle. I could start by talking about how just short of a few weeks ago, I was terrified because I thought my mom died in a church bombing. Or maybe I could write about the first time I felt like I was genuinely and completely part of a community. Perhaps I could dwell on how I easily surpassed my life long identity crisis by just understanding more about my beautiful culture and heritage. It does seem like we will have to drop by all these important milestones to get to the big picture so here it goes..
My name is Basant She and I am Coptic. Coptic Orthodox Christians are a religious minority in Egypt with Coptic simply meaning ‘Egyptian’ in our language. However, there is a difference between the modern Egyptian and the Coptics, we are the indigenous population, descendants of the pharaohs. Pretty cool, right? I have, honestly, met the most supportive and selfless group of people in this community. I know that where ever I go, I will always have someone to help me and look out for me regardless of the circumstances. Bearing this in mind, the move to Germany was not easy at all but because of my church’s ever so selfless and kind support, I cannot explain how absolutely moving it was to constantly see this unconditional love.
That being said, growing up with different cultures was pretty difficult. I think I definitely wrestled with a lot of diverse ideologies and perspectives growing up. However, the strength I feel from believing in what I believe in as a Copt is indescribable. My identity was ridiculously jumbled before, I really didn’t know if I belonged anywhere. I wanted to fit into this cookie cutter shape that everyone around me happened to be. My path eventually guided me to stop pushing what I was really a part of and to embrace my roots and that has been so empowering.
With these large milestones in mind after my move, one can only imagine how I felt when I thought my mom had died in a church bombing at Sunday mass in Tanta. The church was in my hometown in Egypt, one I have a lot of memories at as well as a large amount of family members who attend weekly. My mom was simply visiting Egypt and family for a very short time, I thought nothing of it. I was proved wrong when I was reading the news one morning in bed. I burst out of the room screaming at my roommate that I had probably lost my mother and family. That it was happening again when we were happy, when we least expected it, when all we wanted to do was pray.
As someone on Facebook described it: “I wish sadness changed a thing.”
I am lucky enough to say that my mom didn’t go to that church that day and that the rest of my family either didn’t go or were far away from the bomb. However, we are, sadly, heavily prosecuted against and my fear comes back every few weeks. Just a few days ago, a gunman killed over 25 Christians in a bus on their way to a monastery. To me, it simply seems that we are to forever continuously check our phones during our celebratory masses, scared to death that something happened to our families back home.
In response to this, our motto for thousands of years has been to treat others with complete kindness and love. And I, for one, want people to hear our story and learn about our stunning history that dates back to hundreds of years. I was so thrilled when just earlier today I stumbled upon a video created by Abanoub Andraous, who wants to create a documentary on our history and culture so the world can know more about, for example, our language, how we came to exist, and what now? You can show support for the project here by donating, every dollar counts and will allow for our story to be heard.