Extremists kill 29 Coptic Christian pilgrims

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EGYPT
CASE STUDY

May 2017

Islamist militants shot dead 29 Coptic Christians – including children – when they refused to convert to Islam. The pilgrims had been travelling to the monastery of St Samuel the Confessor, in Maghagha in Egypt’s Minya Province, when their vehicles were stopped by masked gunmen. The extremists ordered the pilgrims off the vehicles one by one and insisted that they renounce their faith.

Mina Habib, aged 10, described seeing Islamist gunmen kill his father and many of the passengers in the truck they were travelling in. He said: “They asked my father for identification and then told him to recite the Muslim profession of faith. He refused, saying he was Christian. They shot him and everyone else with us …” Mina and his brother do not know why they were not killed, even though many other children among the pilgrim group were shot dead.

Daesh (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the massacre. Mina told news agency Reuters that around 15 gunmen carried out the slaughter. He said: “They had Egyptian accents like us and they were all masked except for two of them… They looked like us and did not have beards.”

Attacks by militant Islamist groups in Egypt have not been restricted to Christians. On Friday, 24th November 2017, at least 235 people were killed when about 25 militants detonated explosives and sprayed gunfire at a crowded Sufi mosque near Egypt’s Sinai coast during prayers. No group formally claimed responsibility, but a militant was seen holding a Daesh flag during the attack.

Sources

The National (UAE), 26th May 2017; Reuters, 20th June 2017.

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