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ICC Note: Last February’s series of attacks against the Christians of Egypt’s al-Arish continues to haunt the hundreds of families who were displaced by the violence. No Christian from al-Arish has been able to safely return, and most lost their source of livelihood because of displacement. They have faced multiple challenges as they’ve spread across Egypt in search of a new home. Many have been unable to regain a fraction of what their lives once were.

08/24/2018 Egypt (World Watch Monitor) –  The string of attacks on Coptic Christians last year in the coastal Egyptian city of El-Arish, which caused a mass exodus, followed warnings “to leave or to die”, say relatives of the Coptic vet who was killed by suspected IS militants.

Bahgat William Zakhar, 40, was shot dead by a number of assailants as he left his clinic in a suburb of El Arish, capital of the North Sinai governorate, in February 2017.

“El-Arish was not a bad place,” Bahgat’s son Marqos, 17, told World Watch Monitor. “We lived in peace with our Muslim neighbours. My father was a veterinarian, and had good relations with his Muslim colleagues and friends.”

But his mother, Fawziya, said things changed with the arrival of Palestinian immigrants. “They had a very strict view on Islam,” she said.

The newcomers reportedly spread leaflets warning Christians to leave the city or die. Then the killings started.

Bahgat was one of the first victims.

“It was a Sunday, and my husband woke up early to go to church. After that he went to work at the veterinarian clinic of one of his Muslim friends,” Fawziya explained.

Her son Marqos said that one of his father’s Muslim friends, who witnessed the attack, explained what happened.

“He told me that two young masked men entered the pharmacy and dragged my father outside. They told him to kneel in the street,” Marqos said.

“There they put two guns at my father’s head and told him to convert to Islam. But he shook his head. Then they shot him.”

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