02/25/2014 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) is deeply troubled by the brutal killing of seven Egyptian Christians who were working in Benghazi, Libya. The bodies of the seven men were discovered by Libyan authorities Monday morning on a beach in a suburb east of Benghazi. The men were found with their hands bound and appeared to have been executed, security officials reported.
According to ICC sources in Egypt, Sunday evening, February 23, masked gunmen broke into a building housing Egyptian workers and began asking the residents whether they were Muslim or Christian. Upon entering a first floor apartment and after hearing that the eight men were Christians they forced the men outside and loaded them into a vehicle. Tony Sabry, media spokesman for the Maspero Youth Union told ICC, they were “killed because they are Christians. The killers asked them to show them the right hands to see the sign of the cross on their hands and when they saw the cross they knew that they are Christians,” he said.
One of the men who was in the apartment, Kareem Rizk, was able to escape and went to the Egyptian embassy to report the abduction. He was able to provide authorities with the names of the seven men who were killed. They are: Talaat Sadeek Bibawi, Hani Habib Girgis, Ndha Habib Girgis, Fathi Fawzi Sadeek, Edward Nashed Boles, Ayoub Sabri Tawfik, and Sameh Tawfik Roman, as reported by Elfagar News.
The security situation in Libya has been extremely unstable in recent months. Since the removal of Muammar Gaddafi, Libyan Islamists “have been carrying out the Islamic mission of religious cleansing through discrimination, kidnapping, and execution,” Dr. Ashraf Ramelah, President of Voice of the Copts, told ICC. “Even though democracy was the stated goal of Gaddafi’s toppling it was not the goal of his murder in the street by Islamists,” he continued.
Egyptian Christians have faced abuse on multiple occasions in Libya over the past few years. In March of 2013, dozens of Egyptians were detained and, in some cases, tortured over accusations of proselytizing, Mina Thabet of the Maspero Youth Union told Mideast Christian News. This incident came just a few months after an Egyptian church was burned down resulting in two deaths and multiple injuries.
Commenting on this latest incident, Hal Meawad, spokesman for Coptic Solidarity told ICC, “The execution of the seven Copts in Libya is a big sign for the whole world to see about the suffering of the Christian minority in the Middle East.” Meawad continued, “We don’t need tears and mourning of the dead. We need action to preserve lives and alleviate the suffering of the innocent before it is too late.”
Todd Daniels, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “The brutal execution of seven Egyptian Christians on the basis of their religious identity is troubling. This is just the latest example of the horrific dangers of religious extremism. We urge the Libyan officials to quickly and thoroughly investigate this matter and bring those guilty of this crime to justice. We urge for the Egyptian government and the United States to strongly condemn these actions and assist the Libyan government in strengthening its institutions to combat this extremism.”
For interviews, contact Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East: RM-ME@persecution.org
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