No Fear In Her Faith

Joyce Elgadi And Her Family Experience New Freedom in U.S.


Audra Welsch

Before moving from Egypt to Utah, Joyce Elgadi and her family had to hide that they are Christian.

Charlotte Wolff, Staff Writer

When imagining Christmas, most people imagine curling up in front of a crackling fire, spending quality time with loved ones. Most do not envision hiding in the darkness for fear of being killed.
Sadly, this was reality for Joyce Elgadi, a Highland freshman, before she moved to the United States.
Elgadi is a Christian from Egypt. Ninety percent of Egypt’s population is Muslim; although the majority are peaceful, radical groups have often targeted Christians. In 2017 alone, 128 Christians were killed in Egypt, being targeted in places such as church, workplaces, and even in their own homes. Though Elgadi wasn’t directly targeted, she knew of people whose homes were searched by the police. Police performed searches on random homes in search of Christian artifacts, such as crosses, Bibles, and figures and pillows of Jesus’s image. Her family lived in constant fear of being killed.
“We had to close everything and lock everything in my house before the men could come into our house and find our stuff because we’re Christian. We had to find a better place to hide in,” Elgadi said.
Elgadi was fortunate that her home was not searched by the police, as the discovery of anything relating to Christianity in one’s home could be met by extreme force, which could be fatal. She knows some Egyptian Christians who were not able to escape extreme police brutality.
“There were these neighbors that were Christian, and they have eight kids. They both left for shopping and they left the kids at home. The police came and they were looking in the house and they broke their door and found the kids. They were watching a movie on the TV. [The police] saw the pictures and all the stuff and they just killed them. There were eight, and they killed them all,” Elgadi said.
Though they were completely aware of the potential consequences, Elgadi’s family was still willing to take risks for what they believed in. When they moved to America, Elgadi was thankful that they could practice their Christianity freely. However, her family did not just begin celebrating Christmas in America. They celebrated Christmas in Egypt as well, endangering their lives for their religion.
Celebrating in Egypt was worth it to them because, despite the terrorizing police brutality towards other Christians. Elgadi’s family knew that the hate they were receiving was morally wrong.
Elgadi says her family was not under as much threat from the police because they lived in a “poor neighborhood.” Police would often search richer neighborhoods during Christmas in pursuit of Christian items and artifacts that could be sold. Because of this, there were very few times that Elgadi and her family were in direct danger from the police. Her mother was not worried about being caught.
“She believed that [the police] wouldn’t do anything. She just kept the stuff and we never took it out or hid it. The police never came to my house, they only go to rich people,” Elgadi said.
Elgadi only described one instance of her neighborhood being perused on Christmas in which her neighbor, a fellow Christian, fought with the police. She doesn’t know what happened to the man, but she assumes he was badly hurt, jailed, or even killed.
When Elgadi and her family join together now in the United States to celebrate Christmas, they are thankful for the freedom they have here to practice whatever religious beliefs they choose.
While Elgadi values the freedoms that America grants her family, the Highland community is likewise enriched in its diversity and understanding of other cultures and beliefs by learning about Elgadi and having her as a student at Highland. Christmas now has new meaning for Elgadi, in that she is free to practice Christianity with her family and garnish her home with Christian embellishments.
“[Being in America] feels really great because we can do whatever we want and [the police] can’t force you to do things,” Elgadi said.