Teenager Who Witnessed Father’s Death at Hands of ISIS Speaks About Trauma Recovery

ICC Note: Marian was only 13 years old when her father died in her arms following ISIS’s 2016 attack on St. Peter and St. Paul’s Coptic Church. Her father was a security guard at the church. Now, two years later, she is speaking about the experience. ISIS makes no distinction between adult and child; militants see every Christian as a target. Children like Marian who have witnessed such violence have enormous difficulty recovering and are affected for years to come.

02/07/2018 Egypt (ICN) –  A 13-year-old Christian, who held her dying father in her arms moments after a Cairo suicide bomb attack by Daesh (ISIS), has spoken about her heart-breaking experience.

Marian Nabil Habib told Aid to the Church in Need about the “martyrdom” of her father, Nabil Habib, who was among 29 people killed by Daesh extremists in the capital on 11 December 2016.

Mr Habib, who was 48, was working as a security guard at St Peter and St Paul’s Coptic Church, also known as El-Botroseya Church, where bombing took place. Describing her last moments with her father, she said: “I took off my jacket for his head to rest on. There were wounds across his entire body. His hand looked shattered, my hair got wet with his blood. He was still alive and, looking me in the eyes, he told me to take care of my younger sister and brother and he gave me the keys to the church gate and to our apartment. I will always remember his smile right before he died.”

The 15-year-old teenager recalled feeling panic and confusion immediately after the explosion, Miss Habib said: “I rushed outside and found people running in all directions, screaming hysterically. There was a scene of complete destruction, but I still I did not know what had happened. I asked about my father but nobody knew where he was. I continued looking for him, then, at the entrance of the church, I found my father lying on the ground and bleeding heavily from his head.”

Describing events that led to the weekend attack, she said: “That Saturday evening, the suicide bomber had come to the church and asked dad about religious books, saying that he wanted to know more about Christianity, a deacon overheard the conversation and told the young man to come back the next morning at 10am.”

“On Sunday morning, as soon as my father saw the young man he recognised him, the bomber was quickly making his way to the women’s pews, looking confused. My father got on the phone with my uncle to tell him about the man, but quickly ended the call to give chase. Next, the suicide bomber blew himself up.”

Miss Habib said her faith and the support of Church members is helping her come to terms with what has happened. “Losing my dad put me in a state of shock for more than a month and a psychiatrist visited me. “Finally, it was God’s mercy, his consolation, which helped me recover. I feel great comfort from God and I also got support from the Church, my friends, and many people around us… people from other countries and international bodies.”

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