Published: 00:00 GMT Daylight Time - Friday 16 October 2009
Egypt: A Child's Prayer for his Mother
“Oh Daddy Jesus, bring Mum back and heal her. Bring Dad and heal him ... Daddy Jesus, may you forgive the bad guys who are striking Mum and Dad ... make them your children so that they will not strike Mum and Dad again.”
These are the words of Emmanuel Samuel, aged 4, when asked if he would like to pray for his mother, Martha Samuel. Emmanuel and his younger brother Carlos (aged 2) witnessed their mother, an Egyptian Christian from a Muslim background, being stripped and kicked at Cairo airport in December 2008 as the family were leaving Egypt to settle in Russia in the hopes of escaping the persecution they were enduring from the police and Martha’s Muslim relatives. During their detention at the airport, the children were reportedly deprived of food to increase the pressure on their mother to return to Islam.
Emmanuel says that Martha had always taught them, “When somebody struck us or insult us to tell him, may baba [daddy] Jesus forgives you.” Emmanuel’s prayer to the persecutors continues: “Daddy Jesus set them free so we can go to the church [it was close to Christmas], do the manger … and attend the feast and take our gifts ... and to see Santa and the baby in the manger. Daddy Jesus make Carlos sleep well and drink his milk today. Daddy Jesus heal my cough my cold and heal Carlos also … Amen”. Following her detention at the airport, Martha was arrested, charged and imprisoned for a month. She was released on bail but not before the judge hearing her case told her if he had a knife he would kill her for leaving Islam.