Yet another murderous wave is taking Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority by storm, leading to another exodus from their homes.
Last week in al-Arish, Sinai, Islamic State affiliates killed a 65-year-old Christian man by shooting him in the head; they then abducted and tortured his 45-year-old son before burning him alive and dumping his charred remains near a schoolyard.
Perhaps because of its sensationalist nature—burning a human alive—this story was reported by some Western media. Yet the atrocities hardly begin or end there. Below is a list of Christians murdered in al-Arish in recent days and weeks:
- January 30: A 35-year-old Christian was in his small shop working with his wife and young son when three masked men walked in, opened fire on and killed him. The murderers then sat around his shop table, eating chips and drinking soda, while the slain lay in a pool of blood before the terrified wife and child.
- February 13: A 57-year-old Christian laborer was shot and killed as he tried to fight off masked men trying to kidnap his young son from off a crowded street in broad daylight. After murdering the father, they seized his young son and took him to an unknown location (where, per precedent, he is likely being tortured, possibly already killed, if a hefty ransom has not already been paid).
- February 16: A 45-year-old Christian schoolteacher was moonlighting at his shoe store with his wife, when masked men walked in the crowded shop and shot him dead.
- February 17: A 40-year-old medical doctor was killed by masked men who, after forcing him to stop his car, opened fire on and killed him. He too leaves a widow and two children.
It is likely that more Christians have been slain recently in Sinai; because Copts are being killed in quick succession, it is not clear if ongoing reports are documenting the same or new incidences. For instance, a recent February 24 report says “On Thursday [February 23], a [Christian] plumber in the city was shot dead in front of his wife and children at their home…. A day earlier [February 22], gunmen killed another [Christian] man before his pregnant wife, then calmly drank a bottle of Pepsi before taking off, witnesses told aid workers in Ismailia.” Is the February 22 Pepsi drinking incident the same as the one reported above as occurring on January 30, or a different one?
This uptick in Christian persecution is believed to be in response to a video recentlyreleased by the Islamic State in Sinai. In it, masked militants promise more attacks on the “worshipers of the cross,” a reference to the Copts of Egypt, whom they also referred to as their “favorite prey” and the “infidels who are empowering the West against Muslim nations.”
As a result of the recent slayings and threats of more to come, at least 300 Christians living in al-Arish have fled their homes, with nothing but their clothes on their backs and their children in their hands. Most have congregated in a Coptic church compound in neighboring Ismailia by the Suez Canal.
In a video of these destitute Copts, one man can be heard saying “They are burning us alive! They seek to exterminate Christians altogether! Where’s the [Egyptian] military?” Another woman yells at the camera, “Tell the whole world, look—we’ve left our homes, and why? Because they kill our children, they kill our women, they kill our innocent people! Why? Our children are terrified to go to schools. Why? Why all this injustice?! Why doesn’t the president move and do something for us? We can’t even answer our doors without being terrified!”