Egyptian Copts Face Violent Onslaught

Image: Egyptian Copts Face Violent Onslaught Egyptian Coptic Pope Tawadros II (Getty Images)

Wednesday, 17 Jul 2013 06:05 PM

By Steve Emerson

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Violence by Islamic radicals aimed at Egypt's Coptic Christian minority has increased in the wake of the military's July 3 ouster of President Mohammed Morsi.

Muslim Brotherhood supporters blame Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II for supporting the Egyptian military's removal of Morsi.

"What is disturbing is the failure of the security apparatus to act — which at times looks like collusion — to protect citizens and their property who are being targeted on the basis of their religion, Ishak Ibrahim of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) told Agence France Presse (AFP).

"Copts are paying the price of the inflammatory rhetoric against them coming from some Islamist leaders and supporters of the former president, who accuse Coptic spiritual leaders of conspiring to foment army intervention to remove Dr Morsi."

The Daily Mail reported Saturday about a "frenzied" attack on an elderly Coptic priest who refused to disclose the location of a Muslim woman who had converted to Christianity.

The priest is in hiding, and his family fears for their safety. His son, a shop owner, cannot appear in public since he was arrested and tortured by Egyptian police sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Copts in the Sinai, which has been ravaged by Islamic extremists, have particularly found themselves vulnerable.

A mob wielding axes, clubs and tree limbs rampaged through the southern Egyptian village of Nagaa Hasan, attacking a Coptic businessman and his nephew, the Associated Press reported July 10.

The mob hacked and beat the Copts, killing the businessman, identified as Emile Naseem, 41. He had been the village's most prominent proponent of ousting Morsi. His nephew survived with wounds to his shoulders and head.

The mob also burned dozens of Christian homes and stabbed three other Copts to death.

Magdy Habashi, a Christian merchant in the northern Sinai peninsula, was kidnapped and later found beheaded in a cemetery with his arms tied behind his back.

A priest reportedly was killed by Muslim gunmen who opened fire during a weekly trip to the grocery store. Fr. Youssef Souby Zaky, a friend of the slain priest, reluctantly left his church in the northern Sinai after it was ransacked and torched, telling The Daily Mail it was unsafe for Christians to remain in his town.

Naguib Gobarail, a Christian who heads the Human Rights Federation, described what has been happening as "ethnic cleansing."

"It's a pogrom. I have three sons in their late 20s, and they all emigrated with their families since Morsi took power. I've been threatened with death and my office burned three times."

Steven Emerson is executive director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism. Emerson was a correspondent for CNN and a senior editor at U.S. News and World Report. Read more reports from Steve Emerson — Click Here Now.

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