Homeland Security

Hundreds of Egyptian Coptic Christians Flee Sinai After Series of Islamic State Murders

The largest community of Christians in the Middle East is in the crosshairs of the Islamic State.

Earlier this week I reported on an Islamic State video calling for the targeting of the Coptic Christian community in Egypt, which included the testimony of a suicide bomber who struck a church in the cathedral compound in Cairo in December that killed 29 worshipers — mostly women and children.

https://twitter.com/VPAFernandez/status/834450200714420225

https://twitter.com/ReutersParisPix/status/807977985668251649

Now a string of killings of Coptic Christians in the regional capital of Sinai, Arish, has hundreds fleeing to Ismailia on the western bank of the Suez Canal in the face of a terror campaign intended to religiously cleanse Sinai.

Two Christian men, a father and son, were kidnapped and killed earlier this week in Arish, with the son reportedly burned alive.

Another Coptic man was gunned down in his home in front of his family on Thursday — the third murder targeting the Christian community in Arish this week — and then their house was burned down:

More than one-half of the Christians in Arish have fled the area:

Two Coptic priests from the same church in Arish have been murdered in recent years, one in 2013 and one just last June:

Al-Masry Al-Youm reports that at least 50 families have taken refuge in Ismailiya across the Suez Canal, with one evangelical church caring for 250 people:

https://twitter.com/SameralAtrush/status/835117380565106688

Following the church bombing in December, attacks on individual Christians began immediately after the New Year, beginning with a shopkeeper in Alexandria who was murdered by an Islamist for selling alcohol:

The killing has spread into Upper Egypt, where many of the 10-12 million Coptic Christians in Egypt live:

One persistent problem for the Coptic community has been the abduction, forced conversion to Islam, and marriage of Coptic women, which continues to occur in the midst of the current terror campaign:

In June 2014, I arranged meetings between Father Anthony Hanna, priest of a Coptic church in Concord, California (and my guide for my April 2014 fact-finding trip into Upper Egypt), and a number of members of Congress.

As a result of those meetings, a dossier of more than 800 Coptic women who had been abducted in this manner was prepared by the office of Pope Tawadros II and transmitted to the staff of Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ).

The kidnapping, ransom, and murder of Christians is also a longstanding problem:

In August I reported here at PJ Media on my 2014 trip to review the churches torched in a terror campaign by the Muslim Brotherhood in August 2013, with more than 70 churches, monasteries, and Christian businesses subject to arson.

This Associated Press video shows two of the locations I visited in Egypt that were targeted in those 2013 attacks: first, the ancient Coptic monastery in Delga, whose three churches (4th, 7th and 19th century) were torched and ransacked; and second, churches, businesses, and homes in Minya, one of the largest cities in Upper Egypt:

Earlier this month, the Coptic church commemorated the second anniversary of the ritual murder of 21 Coptic Christians working in Libya by the Islamic State.

https://twitter.com/VPAFernandez/status/831849409646301184

As I reported here at PJ Media, shortly after the killings of the 21 Copts in Libya, attacks on martyrs’ families still living in Upper Egypt commenced — not by the Islamic State, but by mobs organized by the Muslim Brotherhood:

This RT documentary includes interviews with the families and friends of those 21 martyrs:

The plight of Egypt’s Christians will be a topic I will continue to cover here.

For readers to better familiarize themselves with the Coptic Church — the largest Christian community in the Middle East representing more than one-half of all Christians in the region, and also one of the most ancient Christian traditions — I would recommend this short 60 Minutes segment by the late Bob Simon: