UPDATE: A monk at the monastery says the murder is not believed to be an act of terrorism, but as of yet no perpetrator has been identified.
Original Post: A murder investigation is underway in Egypt today after a Christian Coptic bishop was found murdered inside the precinct of the monastery where he was abbot.
Bishop Epiphanius served at the St. Markarious Monastery in Wadi al-Natrun (Scetis) in between Cairo and Alexandria.
Watani International reports:
Monks of St Macarius’s say he had left his cell at dawn to attend Matins Praise that precedes Sunday Mass, but was obviously intercepted by someone who came from behind him and hit him on the head with a sharp, heavy object.
The Abbot was later found by the monks lying in a pool of blood, dead. They directly called Pope Tawadros who hastened to delegate a number of bishops to check on the matter, as well as on the monks and monastery. The homeland security authorities and the prosecution were directly notified; they headed to the monastery, together with a criminal investigation team and forensic medicine investigators. The monastery is now closed until investigations are completed.
It is not yet clear whether the culprit came from inside or outside the monastery.
I visited two of the monasteries in Wadi al-Natrun this past April — my third trip to the monasteries in the area.
Understandably, the Coptic community around the world is reacting with shock:
Reports emerging of the brutal murder today of Coptic Bishop Epiphanius, Abbot of Saint Macarius Monastery, Egypt.
— CopticMediaUK (@CopticMediaUK) July 29, 2018
Last night, apparently its being investigated as a possible homicide as well. pic.twitter.com/EZtBPnpVTG
— Tony Rezk (@TonyRezk) July 29, 2018
Since the beginning of Obama’s so-called “Arab Spring” in 2011, the Coptic Church in Egypt — the largest Christian community in the Middle East with 10-12 million members — has suffered a series of attacks that have killed dozens.
In April 2014, after meeting with Pope Tawadaros in Cairo, I traveled into Upper Egypt to survey the damage to dozens of churches and monasteries that had been destroyed by mobs encouraged by the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.
— PJ Media (@PJMedia_com) August 14, 2016
And last year I was given special permission to visit a church still under repair in Cairo that had been targeted by a suicide bomber in December 2016. Twenty-nine people died, all but one women and girls.
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) May 9, 2017
In recent years I’ve reported on the string of attacks, suicide bombings, and murders targeting the Coptic community: