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Culture

My piece of hope: After knife attack, persecuted Egyptian Christian finds comfort in prayer

Religious fanatics in Egypt stabbed a knife into his belly. Now Mina, a Coptic Christian, is seeking refuge in Germany. Even here, he fears violence, but finds hope in prayer.

As hundreds of thousands of refugees are entering Germany, the country is facing the challenge - and opportunity - of the century. In this DW series, "My piece of hope," refugees share their personal stories of persecution, escape and waiting. Each individual shows one significant object they've brought with them on their journey - their "piece of hope."

Mina, 25, looks at the colorful image hanging on the wall. It shows Joseph and Mary crossing through Egypt while she holds baby Jesus in her arms: It's a peaceful scene. Eight crosses also decorate his refugee room in Bonn.

"I feel safe here," says Mina. "When I am sad and miss my home, I pray - and that comforts me."

Just in front of the brightly colored picture, the young man placed a little book* - his piece of hope. Along with it are two stuffed animals and another cross. It is his prayer alter, his place of worship. Mina is a Coptic Christian and is very religious. He does not want to be recognized on the picture for this article: There are also radical Islamists in Bonn, where his accommodation center is.

A knife in the stomach

Mina is afraid of being attacked again by a religious extremist. He will never forget the horrible experience he had seven years ago: The Coptic community in Port Said was about to baptize an adult Muslim woman who wanted to become Christian. A screaming mob stormed the church. The young woman was kidnapped. They stabbed Mina in the abdomen. He pulls up his t-shirt with difficulty to show the scar: It is as long as his forearm.

"Not all Muslims are bad people," he says, "just the religious fanatics."

In Mina's home town, it became impossible to go to church during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. Women could no longer go out with a headscarf. "They mistreated us every day." Mina had graduated from high school and worked as a photographer and in restaurants. Two years ago, he decided to flee. "I couldn't take it anymore," he says.

Mina spent a year living in Libya. When the situation got difficult there, too, he returned to Egypt. An airplane took him to Georgia. On the return flight, he applied for asylum during a stopover in Munich. That was in June 2013. He has been in Bonn for about two years and his parents are waiting in Egypt. He keeps in touch with them via Skype and telephone.

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