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Christians in Egypt are deeply saddened by the brutal murder of 21 Coptic Christians by Daesh (Islamic State) Muslim extremists in Libya. The extremists published a video on the evening of 15 February, showing the decapitation of the Copts.

The Copts had been kidnapped around Sirte in two separate incidents. On 31 December 2014 Daesh extremists stopped a minibus carrying Egyptians. They took the seven Coptic passengers captive and allowed the Muslim Egyptians to continue their journey. Four days later the extremists entered an apartment block in Sirte. They went to apartments rented by Coptic Christians and kidnapped 13 of them. The details of the abduction of the 21st Christian are unknown.

On 12 January the Libyan branch of Daesh issued a statement that they were holding the 21 Copts in captivity. One month later, the extremists published pictures of the 21 Copts on a beach in orange jumpsuits. On the evening of 15 February the extremists published a horrific video showing the beheadings.

The video states the Egyptian labourers were targeted because they were Christians. The title of the video is ‘A message signed with blood to the nation of the cross.’ A caption describes the victims as ‘people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church.’

The 21 Copts came from villages in the central Samalut region in northern Minya in Egypt. This region suffers from high poverty rates and a lack of job opportunities, which leads many inhabitants to move to other Arab countries in search of work. Eye-witnesses report very emotional scenes as the news reached the villages the Copts came from, with relatives screaming and fainting.

These murders are not isolated incidents. In 2014, 24 Coptic Christians were killed in Libya. Since 2011 there have also been several attacks on the Coptic church building in Benghazi and a Coptic community centre in Misrata.

Sources: Middle East Concern, Release International

Prayer Points

  • Please pray the families of those murdered will know the peace, presence and comfort of Jesus in these difficult times and God’s provision for the future, as the victims were breadwinners for their families.
  • Pray that Egyptian and other Christians in Libya will know the Father’s loving protection, and the Spirit’s guiding wisdom, as many try to leave but are unable to do so due to the security situation in many parts of the country.
  • Pray that many members of IS will know the Spirit’s conviction of their sin, and seek the Father’s forgiveness and new life through the death and resurrection of the Son.