The world seems to have lost sight of Hosni Mubarak, the former president of Egypt, but he is still out there and remains a symbol of unresolved turmoil in Egypt. On Saturday, April 13, he was wheeled into court on a stretcher, the first time he had been seen in over a year. His two sons also on trial stood with him. In contrast to his distraught appearance 12 months ago, his smiling, confident expression seemed to suggest that history had moved in his direction as of late. The distraught state of the country since his ouster has certainly not been on the up side.
Mubarak’s appearance was brief as the presiding judge ended the session quickly, citing a conflict of interest because he had ruled in related cases. Within minutes, the hearing was over and Mubarak was on his way out. Of course procedural delays are common in Egypt. (Where aren’t they common?)
The former president will remain in custody while the court seeks a new judge which could take months. Then, a trial could take months. Who knows? We could all be dead by the time the Egyptian system gets to the end of his trial. Across the country interest in Mubarak faded as the nation became pre-occupied with a multitude of protests, demonstrations, and serious economic issues that have only worsened under President Morsi. After two years of mayhem, the country is faced with dwindling supplies of wheat and subsidized bread. No one can ignore the problem of finding desperately needed cash.
On the other side of the world, the repercussions of the Egyptian revolution are still being felt. In New York City’s Queens suburb, Coptic Christian refugees continue to pour in running from the uncertain chaos that has resulted from the tension between Christians and Muslims since the Arab Spring erupted. The rise of the Moslem Brotherhood has sent the Coptics flooding out of the country. Egypt now ranks fourth in the list of countries whose citizens have been given asylum in the United States. Most of these people have come to the Queens area because of St. Mary and St. Antonios Church in Ridgewood, Queens.
For Egyptian Coptics, the church remains the center of their lives. Far more than only a place to attend on Sunday, the church is their social world. When they come to American where everything is different, their church is the anchor that holds the family together. Coptic believers who come from the rural areas tend to be less sophisticated with little education. They cling to their church even more tenaciously. Most of the immigrants speak no English. The American church often projects on a screen the words of their hymns and liturgy in English, Arabic, and Coptic. Having a center for personal communication has also proven important for the developing Egyptian community. Consequently, America has become the haven of choice for these believers who remain concerned for their own well-being.
The struggle continues in Egypt. Hosni Murbarak appears to be in a better position. Only the Christian immigrants to America seem to have found a similar haven.