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ICC Note: 

Earlier this year, ISIS began singling out the Christians of al-Arish and killing them. Over three hundred Christians fled when it became clear that the police would not protect them. Then last month, ISIS targeted a Sufi mosque near al-Arish. The situation in Sinai because of ISIS has only become worse as time goes on, and these attacks demonstrate how the militants are intent on killing anyone they deem outside of Islam. The vulnerability of Christians to these attacks has been demonstrated time and time again over the last year. Concerns abound about what the coming weeks have in store as Christians prepare to celebrate Coptic Christmas on January 7th. 

 

12/29/17 Egypt (The Times) –   William had just returned home to north Sinai when masked militants came for him at his corner shop at dusk. They shot him in the head, dragged his body outside and, screaming “apostate”, beat his corpse in the street.

The Christian shopkeeper had fled the town of Arish months earlier after seven Copts had been shot by jihadists. Yet despite death threats from Islamic State, the authorities told him to return to the city to collect his sons’ school certificates, so they could sit their exams.

William, 43, is one of at least 115 Coptic Christians killed in Egypt by suspected Isis militants in a year. Isis has warned the estimated nine million Christians living in Egypt that they will pay for their faith with “a river of blood from their sons”.

Isis militants have stormed Christian homes, businesses, churches and cathedrals and have fired on buses of Coptic pilgrims. More than 300 Christian families fled north Sinai in February after jihadists drew up a hit-list of 40 and started working through it. William was murdered in May.

His widow Mariam, 35, said: “The situation in Arish is getting harder. After William was killed Christians there realised they would never be safe.” She was speaking from Ismailia beside the Suez Canal, where she is living with her two sons, aged ten and 12. “Some families go back to check on their homes but it’s usually only women. They have to be extra careful, they always take supplies with them so they don’t risk going to the shops. They keep their doors and windows bolted. Some just stay in the church there.”

Last month Isis militants stormed a Sufi mosque near Arish killing more than 300 people, the single largest terrorist attack in Egyptian history. President Sisi vowed to crush Isis in Sinai within three months. “You can use all brute force necessary,” he told his security forces.

The interior ministry cancelled annual leave for its employees and deployed 230,000 personnel to protect more than 2,900 religious buildings over Christmas, but Mariam has seen little change.

Christians are bracing themselves for another onslaught in the festive period which culminates with the Coptic Christmas on January 6. Last Friday hundreds of Muslims chanting anti-Christian slogans stormed a church just south of Cairo, destroyed the interior and injured three people. The authorities have detained 15 people.

(Full Story)

For interviews with Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].