Coptic Christian Women are HotbySamuelx©
After a grueling day at school, Mark Martinique heads home at last. Taking summer courses at Carleton University was not his idea of a good time. Seriously. The summer heat had the City of Ottawa in a chokehold and even though he was born and raised in the island of Haiti, in the heart of the Caribbean, Mark was affected by the heat just like everybody else. Sitting on the bus, he nearly missed his stop because he was falling in the groove of his favorite song, What I've Done by Linkin Park. The tall, brawny young Black man gathered his belongings and got off the bus. First thing he wanted to do once he reached his apartment was to take a shower. Hot damn. His fellow Haitians back home thought Canada was a winter wonderland. They didn't warn him about the summer heat in Ontario.
Mark Martinique walked the two hundred meters from the bus stop to his apartment in the Vanier sector of Ottawa, Province of Ontario. He crossed himself as he walked in front of the local Lebanese Christian church. Every day on the news, he scoured for bits about the plight of Coptic Christians in Egypt and the tension between Lebanese Christians and Lebanese Muslims. Scores of Egyptian Christians and Lebanese Christians were emigrating to the United Kingdom, eastern Europe and North America because they feared what the Muslim majority might do to them in the religiously diverse Republic of Lebanon and politically tumultuous Egypt. What sparked his interest in such matters? His growing friendship with Genevieve Hassan, the young Egyptian woman he met at the Rideau Shopping Center a year ago.
Living far away from his native island of Haiti forever changed Mark Martinique. He grew up in the town of Cap-Haitien in northern Haiti and was visiting family in the City of Montreal, Province of Quebec, when the 2010 Earthquake happened. Eighteen-year-old Mark Martinique had just been accepted at the prestigious Universite Notre Dame d'Haiti in downtown Port-Au-Prince. He was looking forward to studying at the alma mater of his parents, Marcus and Jennifer Martinique, come September 2010. Sadly, it wasn't meant to be. For the deadly earthquake that killed over two hundred thousand Haitians also destroyed much of the Haitian capital of Port-Au-Prince, including government buildings and institutions such as libraries, hospitals, colleges, Universities. The prestigious Haitian University where Mark Martinique always wanted to go simply did not exist anymore. What's a brother to do?
Seeing the destruction which impacted his homeland forever altered Mark Martinique's view of the world. He now knew that he lived in an unfair and unjust world. Bad things could and did happen to good people. Mark wanted to return to Haiti to help with the disaster but his uncle Joel Martinique and his aunt Gertrude in the town of Montreal wouldn't let him go. They foresaw much unrest and turmoil in the immediate future of post-Earthquake Haiti. They feared that something might happen to Mark if he returned. Luckily, his parents were safe and sound in Cap-Haitien. And they agreed with his relatives in Montreal. It might be safer for Mark Martinique to stay in Canada for a while. They immediately began the process. Since he was already an adult, his aunt and uncle couldn't adopt him. However, they sponsored him. Thus, Mark Martinique applied to become a permanent resident of Canada, the country he first visited with a visa.
For over a year Mark Martinique lived in the City of Montreal, Province of Quebec. Most Montreal folks were French Canadians and as a Haitian national Mark Martinique spoke fluent French so he got by just fine. He took English classes and befriended bilingual people his own age to acclimate himself to life in Canada. He enrolled at Dawson College in downtown Montreal, and although it was a fine school, he thought he could do better. Within a year, he picked up English and spoke it with barely any trace of an accent. Mark Martinique liked life in Quebec just fine but he wanted to explore life outside of the Canadian province with the sizable Haitian population. During his first visit to the City of Toronto in the province of Ontario, he fell in love with the metropolis. It was the ultimate party town. Unfortunately, the schools down there were expensive as hell. Mark Martinique applied to study at Carleton University in the City of Ottawa, a couple of hours away from Toronto. He never imagined that living in the Canadian capital would change his life forever.
During his first day in the City of Ottawa, Mark Martinique walked up and down the town considered one of the most diverse in all of Canada. He saw all kinds of people. Somalis. Arabs. Hispanics. Chinese. Hindus. Nigerians. Ethiopians. The City of Ottawa was fast becoming one of the most racially and culturally diverse locales in this side of Canada. Second only to the City of Toronto in terms of multiculturalism. Of course, the City of Ottawa lacked the pomp, grandeur and size of the City of Montreal. Still, he felt it would do just fine as a place to continue his higher education. He didn't like the dorms at Carleton University and instead opted to live in a one-bedroom apartment in the Vanier sector of Ottawa, a short bus ride from the University campus. The apartment was already furnished, so that helped a lot. He didn't bring much with him from his uncle and aunt's house in the Laval sector of the City of Montreal. Yeah, Ottawa was going to be his home for a little while.
Mark Martinique vividly remembered his second day in the City of Ottawa. He was walking around the Rideau Shopping Center, taking in the sights and sounds of one of the busiest places in the capital when he saw an unusual sight. A pretty gal sitting on a bench, looking at her cell phone and crying. Mark Martinique paused. His well-honed Haitian sense of chivalry insisted he do something about it. At the same time, he hesitated. He didn't know this gal. Was it truly his problem? Women in Canada were different from the ones in the Republic of Haiti. In his island, a man could compliment a woman and it was no big deal. In Canada, everything was harassment or discrimination or sexism or whatever. Canadians were a confusing bunch. So, um, what's a brother to do?
Two decades of atavistic chivalry triumphed over Canadian political correctness, and Mark Martinique approached the crying gal. Upon getting closer, he cleared his throat. Gently, he asked her if everything was alright. The young woman looked at him, and he was stunned by how beautiful she was. Her skin was the colour of burnished bronze, her Black hair was both shiny and curly. And she had the most amazing almond-shaped golden brown eyes. She seemed puzzled by his presence. Mark cleared his throat again, and asked him if everything was okay. She scoffed, shook her head and told him things were not alright. In a sad, angry tone, she told him that her uncle Leonidas was in the hospital because he was attacked by radical Muslims in Cairo. Upon hearing that, Mark hesitated. The young lady's bold statement hadn't gone unnoticed. Two hijab-wearing dark-skinned girls eyed her coldly, as did an Arab guy wearing a funny little hat. Mark sat next to the gal, and asked her if there was anything he could do. The young woman shook her head, then rubbed her eyes. She looked at him with sadness and told him there was absolutely nothing he could do. Then she got up and left.
Mark Martinique watched her go, feeling helpless. Wow. That went well. When he got home that night, he went on his laptop and hit Google and Yahoo for news about Egypt. There was a lot of stuff about the unrest in the Middle East, and clashes between Arab Christians and Arab Muslims in Egypt and elsewhere. When he searched for Leonidas, surprisingly he found some news. Leonidas Funsani Wahid, member of the Canadian Egyptian Association of Ontario, and a Bishop with the Coptic Christian Church of Canada. Google images came up with the pictures of a tall, bronze-skinned man in priestly robes. Wiki had more about him. Apparently, he was born in the City of Fayyum, Egypt, on the fifth day of February 1960. Mark smiled at that. He was born February the seventh. Apparently, Leonidas was a fellow Aquarian. Cool. Pictures of Bishop Leonidas Wahid, with the Coptic Pope, Shenouda III. Pictures of Bishop Leonidas speaking to Jesuit students at Boston College in Boston, Massachusetts. Books on Coptic Christian life authored by the good Bishop on Amazon.com and its affiliates. Clearly, the young lady from the mall was related to an important man.
Mark mused over that, and did some research on Coptic Christians. He didn't know much about Christians in the Middle East, in part because most people in the Arab countries were Muslims. He found out about significant numbers of Christians living in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and even Iran. Pretty much everywhere, they were persecuted by the Muslim majority. Something in Mark bristled at that. He saw Muslims every day in Ottawa and Montreal. And he didn't have anything against them, though he often read in the newspaper how many of them were pushing against the burka ban in several nations in Europe, and how many Muslims felt unwanted in largely Christian and increasingly secular societies in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the Americas. He never read anything about Muslims slaughtering Christians in the Arab world until today. For hours he read articles. The war between Christians and Muslims in Lebanon decades ago, and the power-sharing agreement which formed the basis of the modern Lebanese government. The burning of Christian churches and the abduction of Christian women in Egypt. The abduction and forced conversion of Hindu women by Muslims in the Republic of India. The persecution of the growing Christian minority in Pakistan. Attacks on Christian churches in Nigeria by the radical Islamic organization known as Boko Haram. Oh, yeah. Christendom was under attack in numerous countries and the western media was mum about it, thanks to political correctness. Mark felt angered by that. He closed his laptop and went to sleep.
The next day, he went to his Criminology classes at Carleton University. While walking near the library, he saw someone who looked familiar. The young Haitian almost did a double take when he recognized the young lady from the mall. Hesitantly, he approached her. As before, he loudly cleared his throat. The young woman turned, and recognition flashed in her eyes when she saw him. Smiling, Mark asked her how she was doing. The young lady smiled, and told him she was alright. She said she was just having a bad day yesterday, that everything was fine. Mark's smile thinned. He didn't know her from Adam but he could smell a lie when he heard one. He reminded her of what she told him, that her uncle Leonidas was attacked by Muslim radicals in the Egyptian capital. She seemed puzzled that he remembered that. Mark licked his lips, then told her that he hit Google for news about Leonidas and Egypt and found out about the plight of Coptic Christians there. The young woman looked him up and down, and told him he'd make quite the detective.
Mark decided to take that as a compliment. Holding out his hand, he introduced himself. Mark Martinique. Son of police captain Marcus Martinique of Cap-Haitien, Northern Haiti. The young woman grinned, and shook his hand. Finally, she told him her name. Genevieve Hassan, daughter of Elisabeth Hassan of Cairo, Egypt. Favorite niece of Bishop Leonidas Wahid of the Coptic Christian church of Egypt. Wow. Talk about a mouthful. Mark looked Genevieve up and down. The gal was something else. Five feet nine inches tall, slim but curvy, dressed like a model in her stylish red blouse and Black jeans. A golden cross adorned her neck. She was quite striking, to say the least. Mark took a deep breath, then told her he wanted to learn more about Coptic Christians. When she asked him why, Mark told her that he was a proud Haitian Catholic who didn't believe in letting any wrongdoing go unpunished. He asked her whether Coptic Christians had a Facebook page. When he said that, Genevieve Hassan laughed. Then she asked him for his Facebook. Whipping out his Blackberry, he logged on then searched for her. He found her easily enough. He was about to ask her for her number when Genevieve told him she would add him, then she took off. Apparently, she had a class to get to.
Mark stood there and watched her go. The gal was something else. Tall and sexy, a proud Arab Christian woman with deeply held convictions, and she had a cute butt too. The young Haitian wondered what in heck he was getting himself into. Little did he know that it was the beginning of something which would change his life forever. The next time he checked his profile online, Genevieve Hassan had accepted his friend request and also sent him a link to a page about Arab Christians and their supporters. Mark happily 'liked' it. The next time he saw Genevieve, she was coming out of the library. The gal had a bunch of flyers in hand and showed him what they were about. The words "religious freedom for all" and "stop persecuting Coptic families in Egypt" were written in bold.
Damn, this chick meant business. Mark only wanted her number but figured he might stand a better chance if he offered to help her. He never imagined where it would take him. That first day, they put the flyers all over the Carleton University campus. A lot of non-Muslim students didn't have any idea what Coptic Christians were or why they were persecuted. Genevieve Hassan's flyers educated them. The Muslim students at school weren't thrilled with it but the school believed in religious freedom. A Christian, a Jew, a Hindu or a Muslim, all that the right to post whatever they wanted. And the Coptic Christian students at Carleton University were both Arab and Christian, something which worked in their favor because the school administration couldn't stop them from posting their flyers for fear of being labeled racist. Mark personally put up twenty of them on various buildings at school. Genevieve worked tirelessly and put up twice as many. And then she drove him downtown where they handed them out at the entrance of the Rideau Center.
Later that afternoon, Mark and Genevieve grabbed a bite together at Manchu Wok in the Rideau Center food court. Sitting there, talking about anything and everything, he got to know her a bit better. Genevieve was born in Los Angeles, California, which her parents were visiting while studying at a university in Cairo, Egypt. They later moved to the region of Ontario, Canada. Even though they had a daughter born in America, the American government wasn't about to grant them citizenship easily. Canada was more welcoming. So, Genevieve Hassan was an American-born and Canadian-bred Egyptian Christian woman. Wow. Quite an odyssey. He told her as much. Genevieve laughed and told him she was just getting started. Then she asked about him. Mark felt a bit uncomfortable, but pushed it aside.
Like many Haitians living outside the island of Haiti, Mark Martinique didn't like talking about the 2010 Haiti Earthquake. It was an emotional subject for most of them. They didn't like talking about the quake and what it did to the men and women of their homeland, and the social and political turmoil that followed. When he shared that with her, Genevieve looked at him not with the knee-jerk fake sympathy that was typical of Canadians, but with genuine empathy. Gently, she took his hand in hers and gave it a squeeze. Mark looked at her and nodded. Without saying anything, she nodded in return. She understood what it was like to watch your world turn upside down due to unforeseen unfortunate events. That's when Mark knew. At long last, he had met a kindred spirit. They finished their meal and left the mall together. She drove him back to his Vanier apartment, and gave him a hug. They'd see each other tomorrow, she promised. Mark watched her go, shaking his head. What a day.