Rash of murders targets Egypt’s Coptic Christians
Egypt | Five separate attacks bear similarities, witnesses say
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 1/26/17, 12:03 pm
Five Coptic Christians in Egypt have been murdered in separate attacks within a two-week period, witnesses and authorities confirmed. All five murders bear similarities in a country where Christians continue to face persecution.
The latest murder happened Jan. 16, when an unknown attacker killed 37-year-old Ishak Ibrahim Fayez Younan in his home.
Younan’s brother, Magdy, said his brother had been working in Cairo and rented a flat in the city. His wife and two children stayed at the family home in el-Sheikh Zayed, a village in Upper Egypt. Younan’s wife called and asked Magdy to check on her husband after she did not hear back from him for a few days.
“We found Ishak’s body lying in a pool of blood,” Magdy told World Watch Monitor. “He had a large wound at his throat.”
Magdy said the attackers left everything in place, including Ishak’s wallet that contained about $21.
On Jan. 13, Mokhles Nageh said he found his neighbor dead when he broke into his flat to check on him. Nageh said he saw Bassam Safwat Atta’s dead body in a pool of blood with a similar gash on his neck. Atta’s cousin told World Watch Monitor more than $2,000 remained untouched in the surgeon’s flat after the murder. Atta’s colleagues and community members described him as a kind man known as the “doctor of the poor” for offering free services to some of the less privileged.
“We lost a person dear to our hearts,” the Rev. Abraam Tharwat, a local priest, told World Watch Monitor.
Earlier on Jan. 3, a man gashed Youseff Lamei with a knife after shouting “Allahu akbar.” Youseff’s brother, Tony, said the attacker came into Youseff’s shop in Alexandria and shouted the Islamic phrase during the attack. Footage of the incident shows the attacker smoking outside the shop before he approached and stabbed Youseff. Police officials arrested Adel Soliman, a 48-year-old man, a day after the attack.
In the same week, attackers murdered a Coptic couple in their home in a mostly Christian village called Tukh El-Dalkah. Magdy Amin Girgis, the woman’s brother, said he found the couple lying on their beds with their throats slit. Police cited robbery as the motive for the attack, but Girgis said the attackers didn’t take anything from the home.
Christians in Egypt make up about 10 percent of the country’s population. The minority Coptic Christian group continues to face discrimination and attacks.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide said no one has claimed responsibility for the other four attacks and security officials have not found any of the perpetrators. But the spate of attacks highlights targeting of the Christian minority, which has become commonplace.
Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.