Egyptian artist paints church murals, unfazed by attacks

2017-04-27 14:00
An Egyptian Christian mourns as he stands next to a blood-stained painting of Jesus Christ outside the Al-Qiddissine church in Alexandria. (Mohammed Abed, AFP)

An Egyptian Christian mourns as he stands next to a blood-stained painting of Jesus Christ outside the Al-Qiddissine church in Alexandria. (Mohammed Abed, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cairo - On a scaffold several stories high beneath the dome of a Cairo church, Ayman William paints for the glory of God, unfazed by recent attacks against his fellow Coptic Christians in Egypt.

The church, deep within the dusty alleyways of one of the many "informal" neighborhoods that have sprung up to accommodate the capital's surging population, is building a new extension.

And William, 41, who has painted murals in churches as far away as Kuwait and California, is happy to help.

"God gave me talent and I must make use of it to serve him," said William, who was mostly self-taught and says he has drawn inspiration from the Bible during his 15 years in the profession, which he began learning after discovering an affinity for painting icons and murals with childhood friends.

Dozens of characters leap out from the dome around him - Adam, Eve, Moses and Samson, as well as New Testament figures such as St. Mark, considered the founder of Egypt's Coptic Church.

He's been working on it for nearly six months, and expects to finish in a few weeks.

William has an assistant hoist his paintbrush, tools and palette to the upper levels of the scaffolding before he climbs up on a giant ladder.

For many of the images, he uses models dressed up in period clothing to help him depict biblical scenes.

"I have to make studies using the Bible in each drawing in order to get the specific description," he said. "Besides working for payment, I believe that what I am doing is a service to the church."

Pope Francis will visit Egypt this weekend on a trip aimed at lifting the spirits of Christians in the Middle East, whose numbers have rapidly dwindled in recent decades due to war, displacement and emigration.

Egypt's Copts, one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, marked a solemn Easter earlier this month, after suicide bombers attacked two churches in separate cities, killing dozens of worshippers on Palm Sunday.

Last December a suicide bomber killed 30 people at Cairo's Coptic Cathedral.

An Islamic State affiliate claimed all three attacks, and militant attacks on Christians in the northern Sinai Peninsula earlier this year forced hundreds of people to flee to safer parts of the country.

Nevertheless, Coptic church attendance remains high in the wake of the attacks. Many, like William, are determined to go about their lives despite the violence.

"Terrorism exists everywhere," he said. "Not just in Egypt, but also in places like Iraq, Syria and even France. But the places I go to for work are good places, safe places."

Read more on:    pope francis  |  egypt  |  north africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.