(NY Times) Finding Refuge From the Egyptian Unrest at a Queens, New York, Church

Just how many Copts have fled to the United States no one can say with certainty, since immigration statistics do not include religious affiliation. But the number of Egyptians seeking asylum has jumped since the revolution; in 2011, 1,028 Egyptians were given asylum ”” 4.1 percent of all of those granted asylum ”” up from 531 in 2010, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics. With that increase, Egypt ranked fourth on the list of countries whose citizens were given asylum in the United States….

For Copts in Egypt, church is more than just a place to go on Sunday mornings; it is the center of their social life outside the family. For Copts newly outside Egypt, the church is a familiar oasis in a strange country.

“It is our church everywhere,” said Gameel Girgis, a 36-year-old pharmacist who came to the United States in October to seek asylum with his wife and two children after his father-in-law, a priest in the central Egyptian city of Asyut, was stabbed to death. When he searched for a place to live, “my first consideration was distance from the church,” Mr. Girgis said, adding, “I want to raise my kids in the church.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Children, Egypt, Marriage & Family, Middle East, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues