ISIS TARGETS COPTIC CHRISTIANS IN EGYPT
28 February 2017
Hundreds of Coptic Christians flee from northern Sinai, Egypt after a sequence of attacks from the so-called Islamic State (IS). The attacks in Sinai began in 2015 and have significantly escalated over the past few weeks. SAT-7 addresses the situation on the current affairs program Bridges.
A campaign by IS militants is calling out affiliates to target ‘infidel’ Christians. Coptic Christians are being shot in the street, stabbed while they are sleeping in their homes, and burned to death by attackers.
An estimate 118 Coptic Christian families have fled El-Arish, a coastal city in northern Sinai.
The Coptic Orthodox Church is helping the refugees find shelter, and the government has also opened youth hostels for many families.
The Evangelical Church of Ismailia, on the Suez Canal separating the Sinai from mainland Egypt, has also received and assisted a dozen displaced families.
“The church is a transit area for those fleeing the Sinai until they are later moved to more permanent housing,” says Pastor Ezzat Afifi.
IN A STATE OF SHOCK
Many families are in a state of fear and shock. Several have lost their loved ones, relatives and friends as a result of these attacks, and others have received further death threats.
“Two masked men attacked my father in his clinic. They took him out into the street and made him kneel. When he refused to denounce his Christian faith, they shot him immediately. The police didn’t come, and nobody did anything. They just stood there watching,” says one of those who had fled.
In another case, a Christian woman witnessed the killing of her son and husband when IS militants entered her home, shooting her son in the head. They then shot her husband behind his ear: he had hearing problems, and the attackers were angry that he could not hear their threats. He was killed instantly. After they had looted the house, the attackers set it alight and burned it to the ground along with the bodies of the victims inside.
THE EGYPTIAN COUNCIL OF CHURCHES SPEAKS OUT
The Egyptian Council of Churches sent out a statement regarding the crisis saying:
“This matter is a violation of the Egyptian constitution, the fundamental rights of citizenship, and an assault on the country’s status; tarnishing its reputation and destroying its achievements. We fully support the families of the victims and those who were forcibly displaced. We trust that the government is capable of handling this crisis: we look forward to the return of those displaced to their homes, and towards the end of their suffering as quickly as possible. We appreciate all the sacrifices made by our police forces to resist terrorism and achieving security and peace. We also appreciate the role of the different churches to help those affected.”
The Council added, “We pray for the lifting of injustice and the hardship of those in suffering. We pray for the peace of our country.”
Please join us in prayer for these Coptic Christian families impacted by this recent violence, and pray for Egypt.