Originally published by Barnabas Fund
Four people were killed in an Islamist attack on a church in Egypt, while another Egyptian Christian has been murdered in Libya. Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood shot at the church building in Ain Shams, a suburb of Cairo, and set cars parked by it on fire. The attack took place on March 28.
A young Christian woman, Mary Sameh George, was among those killed. She was in a car outside the church and was targeted by the Islamists when they saw a cross hanging from the rear view mirror. An eyewitness said that Mary was savagely attacked by the Muslim mob. A 25-year-old journalist was also killed. The Egyptian security forces have been criticised for failing to intervene. The attack took place as the Muslim Brotherhood were staging protests across the country in reaction to the announcement by army chief Field Marshall Abdel Fatah al-Sisi that he will be running for the presidency.
Much hated by the Brotherhood for removing their president, Mohammed Morsi, from power last July, al-Sisi is much loved by Egyptian Christians for the very same reason. Last year, the Islamists vented their fury over Morsi’s ouster against Christians, torching scores of churches and other Christian institutions. The attack on the church in Ain Sham shows that Christians remain vulnerable to Islamist hostility amid ongoing political tensions.
Christians endangered in Libya
Egyptian Christians are also endangered in Libya, where there appears to be a concerted campaign to wipe them out of the country. On Saturday (29 March), the body of Jad Abdulmasahi Abdulmalik was found in the Gwarsha district of Benghazi. He had been shot several times, including in the head. Jad, who was in his late 30s, was targeted by an armed group while unloading vegetables at a shop.
He is the tenth Egyptian Christian to be killed in Libya in just over a month. Salama Fawzy Tobia (23) died on 15 March after being attacked in similar circumstances on 2 March. The following day, another Egyptian Christian was found shot dead in Jarutha on the outskirts of Benghazi. The bodies of seven young men were discovered in the same area on 24 February. As well as killing individual Christians, militants are forcing the closure of Egyptian churches in Libya. The one in Benghazi was closed following arson attacks last year. And the one in Tripoli shut last month after the minister and his family were threatened with death if they did not immediately leave the country.