Christians Killed on Identity in Egypt, According to Report

ICC Note:  A report by Watani explores the growing number of terrorist attacks against Egypt’s Christians and shows that martyrdom is not relegated to history. The author argues that today is different because Christians are now killed based on identity rather than as victims of collective violence.  Last year was a particularly bloody year for Egypt’s Christians, and militants continue to call for the targeting of Christians.

03/05/2018 Egypt (Watani) –   That New Year Eve will forever remain etched in my mind. I had gone to bed and was fast asleep when a rude sound jolted me awake. It was the telephone ringing, and the alarm clock on my night table pointed at around 2am. I reached for the telephone receiver only to hear at the other end the distressed voice of our young reporter Nader Shukry telling me that some explosion had occurred at a church in Alexandria as the congregation was leaving after New Year midnight service. My heart sank.

“How many died?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he cried.

“What d’you mean you don’t know?” I cried in frustrated anguish. “That’s the most basic thing to know!”

“You don’t understand,” he almost shrieked, “There are no bodies to count. Only fragmented body parts!”

That was during the first minutes of 2011, and the horrendous incident and its aftermath have gone down in Egyptian history as the Alexandria Church Explosion. A fact-finding committee formed by Egypt’s Parliament placed the number of dead at 26, and the injured at 80. The then Interior Minister Habib al-Adly announced two weeks later that the culprits were Islamist Jihadis who included Palestinian and Egyptian elements. But investigations came to a near-halt with the Arab Spring uprising which started on 25 January 2011 and led to political upheaval and the rise of Islamist power.

Did the Alexandria explosion stand as a lone incident in our modern times, an incident where Copts were collectively killed merely for being Christian?

Before Alexandria 2011, Copts were victims of oppressive fundamentalist, fanatic attitudes which brought upon them unduly harsh collective violence under pretexts that ranged from personal arguments to disputes over land, property, or commercial gain; social censure; or building churches. More often than not, there was some pretext or another, no matter how lame, for Islamic fundamentalists to justify violence against Copts. In a few cases, individual Copts were viciously killed on identity, but it was mostly by persons who suffered mental imbalance.

Alexandria 2011, however, heralded in an era where fundamentalists needed no pretext to justify killing Copts; the Christian identity was justification enough. Copts were flagrantly killed on identity, martyred for their faith.

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