A 50-year-old Coptic Orthodox priest from Upper Egypt was stabbed to death, and another was wounded, by a suspected extremist on 12 October.
Father Samaan Shahata Rizkallah was chased and stabbed repeatedly in the head, neck and abdomen by a man wielding a meat cleaver, who also imprinted a cross on his forehead. An ambulance arrived at the scene an hour later, and transported him to a hospital, where he died. Father Beymen Moftah of El-Malak Church in Matay, who was with Father Samaan, was also attacked but is reported to have survived his injuries.
A suspect is reported to be in custody. In a statement, Bishop Astafanous of Fashn, Biba and Samasta described the alleged killer as an “extremist” with a criminal record, naming him as Ahmed-El Sonbaty.
Father Samaan served at St Julius’ Church in Ezbet Girgis, al-Fashn, Beni Suef governorate, a village which is home for approximately 3000 inhabitants, 2000 of whom are Christians.
In 2009, Father Samaan applied for a permit to construct a new church on land owned by Christians who had offered to demolish their old homes, prompting protests from the Muslim community. The church was eventually built and in September 2015, Father Samaan was arrested briefly and interrogated by the police after performing much-needed renovations on the church.
Attacks on Egypt’s Christian community have surged in recent months, with over 100 deaths since December 2016 in a series of attacks that have been claimed by ISIS. Most recently, on 5 October, police were reported to have defused an IED found in a car close to Al-Masara Church in Rod El-Farag, Cairo.
Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide
- Pray to the Lord to bring comfort to those mourning the loss of Father Samaan. Pray too for a full recovery for Father Beymen.
- Ask the Lord to not allow the death of Father Samaan to be in vain, may his testimony be used as a witness for the Gospel.
- Pray to the Lord for the protection of the Coptic community. May the church in Egypt remain strong, and faithful to Him always.
Coptic Christians in Egypt are reeling from a fresh spate of murders, which they fear are part of a jihadist campaign against them.
Three Coptic men were found dead in the space of eight days from the last week of June to the first week of July. A fourth was killed in late May.
The lack of obvious motives and the methods used have led Copts to fear the killings may have been carried out by extremists loyal to groups such as Islamic State (IS), which in February vowed to “wipe out” Egypt’s Copts, though no group or individual has claimed responsibility.
On Sunday 2 July a Christian urologist, Albert Fekry, was found dead in his clinic with a single gash to his neck.
On the same day, in Heliopolis outside Cairo, Coptic jeweller Girgis Bushra, 55, was found dead in his home. He had been shot, according to local police, who have so far made no arrests.
Eight days earlier, a Coptic artist was found dead in the city of Minya, capital of Minya Governorate, which is home to many Copts. Michael Nabil Bebawy, a 32-year-old artist, did not return home after attending Mass. His brother-in-law, Michael Adel, told World Watch Monitor his body had been dumped on railway tracks near the station and his head was found beside his body.
Magdy Zekry Abdel Malak, 40, also suffered a single gash to his neck, when he was killed in May. Police have as yet made no arrests.
A state of emergency in place since attacks on two churches on Palm Sunday has not prevented subsequent attacks against Copts, who complain of a state of indifference among the police.
Fr Bishoy Hakim, a Coptic priest in Minya, alleged there was widespread indifference towards Copts. He told World Watch Monitor: “The security forces are not concerned with protecting Copts. They forge reports and are not bothered with arresting the perpetrators. Extremists are allowed to act with impunity against Copts, which encourages others to repeat such attacks and carry out worse.”
Source: World Watch Monitor
- Ask the Lord to intervene, to bring justice for the families and protection against further attacks. Ask the Lord to bring an end to this violence.
- Pray those who are grieving may look to the Lord and be comforted. Pray they will be well supported and cared for.
- Ask the Lord to bring strength to His church, may they be unified in their love for Him and their identity as God’s children.
We’ve all seen the stories in the news of Christians being forced out of their homes by extremists in the Middle East but it’s no longer just in war-torn countries such as Iraq and Syria.
Now Christians in a northern Egyptian city have fled after extremists murdered three more believers there.
Militants linked to Islamic State reportedly told our brothers and sisters in al-Arish in North Sinai they’d be killed if they stayed. They’ve now killed seven Christians in the city in less than a month.
Four Christians were killed in the city between 31 January and 16 February. We’ve now learnt that three more have been murdered: Saeed al-Hakim and his son Medhat died on 23 February. The next day, militants raided the home of Kamal Youssef and shot him dead in front of his wife and children.
Christian families that have fled al-Arish have found refuge in other towns where local churches are reported to be caring for them.
Islamic State published a video last month calling on its followers to kill Christians in Egypt. Militants are reported to be stopping female teachers in North Sinai and demanding they wear Islamic dress or travel with male relatives. If they don’t, they’ll face ‘severe punishment’.
Sources: Middle East Concern, Release International
- Ask God to comfort the families of the seven Christians killed in al-Arish, and provide for them.
- Pray that our brothers and sisters in Egypt will stand firm in their faith. Pray that their powerful witness will prompt many to want to know more about Jesus.
- Pray for wisdom and firm resolve for the Egyptian Government in tackling this extremist threat and pray that Islamic State terror in the Middle East would end.