Chaos In Egypt Shocks Queens Church

All the parishioners at Ridgewood parish are from Egypt

By Katherine Creag
|  Monday, Jan 31, 2011  |  Updated 8:34 AM EDT
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The violence in Egypt has shaken many in the tri state, especially those at Saint Mary and Saint Anthony Coptic Orthodox Church in Ridgewood, Queens.  Each and every parishioner is from Egypt.

Nashaat Youssef's niece, Gina, is stuck at Cairo's airport. She is desperately trying to return home to Queens.

"She said it's very bad. It's a big problem. No water, no food at the airport," Nashaat Youssef said.
 

He said before his niece left for the airport, they had a brief conversation. "I call her on the phone. I hear some screaming and somebody shoot with a gun. I said, what's happened? She told me someone try to go in her house in Egypt."

Father Anthony Makarius, who last visited Cairo 20 years ago, said Egypt is a beautiful place, known for its history and iconic tourist attractions.  After watching news coverage of the rioting, he said, "we are deeply troubled.  We have never ever seen Egypt like that.  This is the first time we've seen total chaos.

A parishioner said he talked with his brothers and cousins, who live in Heliopolis, a suburb of Cairo.  They turned out their lights and locked the doors, hoping looters will avoid their home and leave them alone.  He said looters were trying to shake down residents.

"There was a lot of looters and thugs in the street, shouting and screaming, that you guys have to give us money.  Otherwise, we'll go up in your apartments," said Dr. Hani Ashamalla.

Father Michael Sorial was in Cairo a few years ago.  He has relatives there who are trying to get on flights to the United States.  With the death toll rising, he says he's praying for an end to the violence.

We're just praying for peace in the hearts of men. It has become very violent.People are dying by the day." said Father Michael Sorial.

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