Magda Gobran, an Egyptian Coptic Christian, activist, and philanthropist, has been nominated for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize. Affectionately known as Mama Maggie and the Egyptian Mother Theresa, Gobran established a charity group called Stephen’s Children in 1989. The organization serves the impoverished residents of Cairo’s garbage slums, largely inhabited by the capital’s Christian minority, who collect and recycle garbage for meager earnings. Stephen’s Children now employs more than 2,000 people, including medical staff, teachers, and crafters, in addition to an army of volunteers. Part of the charity’s work is providing basic education to more than 18,000 children through ninety community education centers. It has also established an elementary school with a capacity of one thousand and three vocational centers.
Why It Matters
Egypt’s Coptic Christians have been targets of sectarian violence from jihadist terror groups operating in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, and have also struggled under Sisi’s administration, despite public assurances to the contrary. In 2011, for example, Egyptian security forces killed 28 protesters and injured 212, mostly Copts, during to the assaults, most infamously in 2011 during the Maspero demonstrations.
Outside of the Coptic faith, Egyptian activists and human rights defenders have faced greater clampdowns by the government. Magda Gobran’s nomination might thus focus greater international scrutiny of the human rights record of a country that is one of the largest recipients of military aid from the United States.