As I’ve reported here at PJ Media, the Coptic Christian community in Egypt — the largest Christian community in the Middle East — has been under siege. It suffered multiple suicide bombings of churches this year on Palm Sunday, and the massacre of a busload of Coptic pilgrims on their way to a monastery just hours before the beginning of Ramadan.
The random killings of Copts throughout the country, as well as targeted kidnappings, have added fears during the continuing violence. Now comes a report this morning that two Coptic priests have been attacked, with one murdered, earlier today in Cairo:
Hegoumen Samaan Shehata, the priest of St.Julius Al-Akfehasi Church at Al-Fashn, was martyred by a terrorist. May the Lord, repose his soul pic.twitter.com/xUcit4Mktd
— Anba Ermia (@Anba_Ermia) October 12, 2017
— Aus Coptic Movement (@auscma) October 12, 2017
Egypt Independent reports:
A Coptic priest affiliated with a church in Upper Egypt’s governorate of Beni Suef was killed on Thursday due to being stabbed by a man in Cairo’s northeastern suburb of El–Marg, state-run newspaper of Akhbar Al Youm reported.
The priest, Samaan Shehta, was in Cairo when a young unemployed man blocked the way in front of the priest’s vehicle and asked him to step down from it. He then hit the priest’s head with cleaver and ran away, a local journalist told Egypt Independent on condition of anonymity.
“It is believed that it is a hate crime that has been executed by an extremist affiliated to IS or Salafism,” he explained.
The Egyptian Coptic Church released a statement asserting that the death of priest Samaan Shehta occurred near El-salam city while he was with another priest, Benjamin Moftah, who was also assaulted. The statement did not provide further details about the second priest.
Last week, a VBIED was found near a church in Cairo:
— 30 June 🇪🇬 (@30JuneEG) October 5, 2017
The series of attacks targeting the Coptic community over the past year have left more than one hundred victims killed.
In May, I reported on the attack on a busload of Coptic pilgrims headed towards a monastery in Upper Egypt that was stopped by gunmen just hours before the beginning of Ramadan:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) May 26, 2017
ISIS claimed responsibility for that attack:
Breaking: IS claims responsibility for Friday attack on bus traveling to Coptic Monastery in Minya, says 31 Copts killed, 24 injured. pic.twitter.com/rpKfJMD2N8
— Mada Masr مدى مصر (@MadaMasr) May 27, 2017
In April, two suicide bombers targeted churches on Palm Sunday, including one intending to assassinate Coptic Pope Tawadros. Those two blasts killed 49:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) April 9, 2017
As a result of those suicide bombings, Easter Sunday services were cancelled in Upper Egypt for only the third time in 1,600 years:
— Ahram Online (@ahramonline) April 11, 2017
Other attacks targeting Coptic churches were thwarted:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) April 12, 2017
— Terror Events (@TerrorEvents) April 12, 2017
— A Copt/ ⲣⲉⲙ`ⲛXⲏⲙⲓ ن ✡️ (@An_Egyptian) April 14, 2017
Just days after Easter, I was in Cairo visiting the church struck by a suicide bomber in December:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) May 9, 2017
All told, 29 were murdered — all but one were women and girls — in that Advent Sunday bombing, which occurred at a church just yards from the main cathedral of the Coptic Church:
Anba Ermia in his visit to Mrs. Samha Tawfiq Awad who was injured in the boming of Al Botrosia at MAV Korhaz Hospital. pic.twitter.com/loeT8pIRgQ
— Anba Ermia (@Anba_Ermia) September 2, 2017
Earlier this year, more than a thousand Copts fled the Sinai Peninsula after a string of sectarian murders and a video threat by ISIS:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) February 25, 2017
The attacks on the Coptic community have not just come from ISIS:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) July 15, 2017
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) April 14, 2017
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) January 3, 2017
Just a few weeks ago, there were attacks on Copts by Muslims upset over a Facebook post:
— CBN News (@CBNNews) September 29, 2017
Egyptian Christians are still trying to recover from the terror campaign by the Muslim Brotherhood in August 2013 that saw nearly 70 churches and monasteries torched by Brotherhood supporters.
I reported here on my April 2014 trip into Upper Egypt to view the damage inflicted by that Muslim Brotherhood terror campaign:
— PJ Media (@PJMedia_com) August 14, 2016
The Egyptian Army is still helping to rebuild those churches:
— Egypt Today Magazine (@EgyptTodayMag) October 1, 2017
— Egypt Independent (@EgyIndependent) October 2, 2017
Just last week it was announced that the bodies of 21 Coptic men who were beheaded by ISIS in Libya in February 2015 had finally been discovered:
Misrata Counter Crime Department (MCCD) uncovers mass grave of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians beheaded by ISIS in Sirte in 2015. Photos MCCD pic.twitter.com/LKkgACEUWZ
— The Libya Observer (@Lyobserver) October 7, 2017
Remarkably, the Coptic community thrives in response to these attacks. And yet widespread discrimination, harassment, and targeted kidnappings continue:
“If they don’t have a church in their village, why can’t they go to another village & pray?” -Muslim cleric in Egypt https://t.co/uCPZtpRaHG
— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) September 5, 2016
— Post World (@PostWorld) November 14, 2016
— DW News (@dwnews) April 10, 2017
— Eric Trager (@EricTrager18) June 23, 2017
Despite the state of emergency announced by President Sisi after the Palm Sunday bombings and the ongoing efforts to protect the churches, the intensity of attacks is evidence that the suffering and persecution aren’t likely to end any time soon.
But if there’s one thing that the Coptic Church has demonstrated in its long history, it’s the ability to persevere and prosper in the face of persecution.