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Renewed day by day

Published: September 04, 2013

A photographic journey into the destruction, and resilience, of Egypt's churches

On Aug. 14, the Egyptian Army moved against large groups of protesters who had set up camp in Cairo. They had been in the streets since July 3, when the military removed Mohamed Morsi from the presidency and the Muslim Brotherhood from power. Using helicopters, tanks, tear gas and live ammunition -- and encountering live fire in return -- the Army's move touched off violence that has left hundreds of Egyptians dead. Morsi remains incommunicado, and thousands of  Brotherhood members have been rounded up.
Anger at the Army quickly was directed at Egypt's Christian churches. Though Christians are a distinct minority of the population, Morsi's supporters saw the hand of the Coptic Church in the military coup, and mobs attacked dozens of churches up and down the Nile, especially in the Minya region in southern Egypt, where the Christian population is most concentrated -- and where some of Egypt's staunchest Islamist elements are based.
Cairo-based photographer David Degner spent several days in late August in the Minya region, documenting the deep wounds to some of  Egypt's churches. As with a fire that burns through a forest, Degner found widespread destruction. And, as with the green shoots of new growth that push up through the ashes on the forest floor, he found signs of new life among the destruction.

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Catching Our Eye

UN warns of Syria 'genocide'

A UN diplomat has warned that if the violence in Syria continues at its present rate, there is a “risk of genocide”.
Mokhtar Lamani, who worked with the UN during both the Balkans war and Rwanda,told the BBC that Alawites and Christians were at most risk, and that over two million Syrians have fled.
The BBC’s Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen says UN envoys are reluctant to use the word “genocide” and that Lamani, based on the diplomat’s personal experience, can be considered an “authoritative source”.

New concern for North Korea

A new report from The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea states that an “extremely high” number of prisoners are detained on political grounds, while countless others are unaccounted for or have died in detention.
“Through this vast system of unlawful imprisonment, the North Korean regime isolates, banishes, punishes and executes those suspected of being disloyal to the regime,” the report states. “They are deemed 'wrong-thinkers,' 'wrong-doers,' or those who have acquired 'wrong-knowledge' or have engaged in 'wrong-associations.' ”
Korean-American Christian Kenneth Bae is one of many perceived political opponents in prison in North Korea. His trial and conviction came at a time of high tension between the US and North Korea, in the wake of the communist state's third nuclear test.
The US Special Envoy for North Korean rights Robert King last week hoped to seek pardon for Bae, who is suffering from ill health, but King was refused entry.
Today former US basketball player Dennis Rodman is visiting ‘his friend’ Kim Jung-un. Rodman says he will not be discussing Bae’s case at all. 
Meanwhile, the United Nations has been refused access to North Korea’s prison camps. However, an initial UN investigation found evidence of forced amputations and reports that a mother was forced to kill her own newborn baby, report The Telegraph, and the BBC.

Another view of Egypt's violence

While much of Egypt and the world fixates on the fate of the Muslim Brotherhood and their attacks on Coptic churches, Timothy Kaldas sees something else: "The state's cynical use of Christian suffering to justify its violent behavior."
Despite the fact that attacks on Christian churches and communities have been widespread and well-documented since Aug. 14, "the security forces, be they police or military, have been nowhere to be seen. This is not due to them being unaware of the attacks," writes Kaldas on the English-language Mada Masr news website. The American-born son of Egyptian expatriates, Kaldas is a Cairo-based photographer.
"Every press conference that addresses the foreign media never fails to inform foreign journalists they’re not paying enough attention to the crimes being perpetrated against Christians throughout the country," he writes. "[T]he negligence of the media, if you believe such negligence exists, pales in comparison to the negligence of the state, whose only interest in mentioning attacks on Christians is to further their political agenda."