Feature: Egyptian woman irons out vendettas between individuals, families via gov't-backed initiative

2020-12-28 18:36:11 GMT2020-12-29 02:36:11(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

by Marwa Yahya

QENA, Egypt, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- Safaa Asran, a 30-year-old woman in Upper Egypt, has managed to resolve many of the feuds between local individuals or families, a prevailing phenomenon that threatens social stability in the region, through her ingenious initiative that gained support of the government and people.

Nearly 300 personal vendettas in different provinces were solved by holding unofficial meetings among members of the families concerned until an agreement was reached, Asran, from Nag Hammadi city of Qena Province, told Xinhua about her initiative Upper Egypt with No Vengeance.

"Vendetta or shame" is a common saying in Upper Egypt, where tribal families believe that the chronic feud is a matter of honor.

"Personal vendetta is one of the bad legacies in Upper Egypt that killed young men because of the traditions, customs and tribal matters. I started my initiative to stop the bloodshed," Asran said.

The norm in Upper Egypt is that when a family member is killed, the family buries the body but never holds a funeral until they kill the murderer or one of his dearest family members, leading to the vicious circle of a blood feud.

Asran, a graduate in communication of New Valley University, said she started the initiative alone in 2013, when she solved a long-running feud between two families in her village and ended the all-day hatred shootings that scared the villagers.

"I mediated between the elders of the two families and managed to end the feud in two months of continuous gatherings," she told Xinhua.

Her initiative gained the official support of the ministries of interior, youth and sport, and local development, after Asran came out on top in a nationwide contest of successful youth initiatives in 2018.

On Dec. 20, she was honored by the minister of local development for her unique initiative that has contributed to spreading the values of tolerance and protecting the souls, according to the ministry's statement.

Now she has received many calls from families for help with their vendetta troubles, some of which are indeed tricky.

"It once took me nine months to end a four-year blood feud among three families that had left five men killed in Abu Qourqas city in Minya Province," Asran recalled.

Many families refused any reconciliation at first and insisted on killing back for the loss of their beloved, she explained.

But "I never give up even if it takes years to reach an agreement between two enemies," the Egyptian woman said.

Take the feud between the Al-Husseiny family and the Al-Ousily family in Deshna village in Qena over the killing of a 26-year-old Al-Ousily man by a member of the Al-Husseiny family.

"Many efforts were exerted to solve the problem, but my uncle refused and insisted on avenging the murder of his son," said Ahmad Mohamed Al-Ousily.

At length, Ahmad said, Asran helped his uncle to get over the hatred and a big reconciliation ceremony was held in the village with the presence of the governor and other top officials.

"Asran and her initiative became an important component of solving the difficult equation of the vendetta," said Abdel Mouty Zayed, chairman of the reconciliation committee in Qena. Enditem