Now, when someone thinks of Egypt, they don’t really think about Christians or Jews. However, it’s time to change that. Let’s spread some light to cultures and societies that are often overlooked, when speaking about this beautiful African country.
A Stairway in old Cairo taken by Hugo Morel
Getting into old Cairo just takes a simple train ride. It’s about a 20 min ride from the main square in downtown. When my friend told me where we were going, I had no idea what to expect.
Coptic Christian getting a cross tattoo. Brought to you by google.
As we arrived, I noticed that there were several people getting tattoos. The narrow alleyways were filled with tattoo parlors. That’s something I didn’t expect in a somewhat conservative Middle Eastern country.
Coptic Christian tattoo brought to you by google
My local friend told me, that the Christians in Egypt get tattoos. Also, learned the meaning behind the cross tattoos. Many centuries ago, the Egyptian government did not accept Christians; nor, any other religion that was not Islam. Until this day, the national Egyptian Ids tell you what religion a person belongs to.
The coptic language alphabet brought to you by Google.
As a way to differentiate from the Arab conquerors, the Coptic Christians tattooed themselves. In modern times, they wear their tattoo with pride. Since, it shows they were in Egypt before the Arabs.
As I was later told by my Egyptian friends in the usa, the Coptic language is the direct descent of the ancient Egyptian language. The hyroglifics were eventually turned into the Coptic alphabet, as seen in the photo above. One of the few alphabets that are native to Africa. An once almost forgotten language, many activists fought to keep the language alive. Now, it’s the main language for the Coptic Christians. Crazy to think, at one point Coptic was once an official language of Egypt.
Sign pointing out the different houses of worship taken by Hugo Morel
The further up you go through the alleyways, you eventually get to this sign (as seen above). When I saw this, I was in complete disbelief. Never would I thought a synagogue would be in Egypt. Yet, it was there in front of my eyes! When I took this picture, I knew it will probably shock you all too.
A sign of the jewish community taken by Hugo Morel
Now, the Jewish community in Egypt is very interesting. Since the ancient times, the Jewish had a presence in this country. In more modern times, the Jewish community moved to Egypt from different parts of the Ottoman Empire. Majority were the Rabbanites Jews. Most later moving to Israel, once it became a Jewish state. Sadly, not much is left of this community. The population is at most in the 200’s. Here is a link, if you want to learn more about this topic.
Thank you for reading. Much love and safe travels!
Next week, we will be explore more of old Cairo!
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