Gunmen Kidnap Coptic Christian in Egypt
Targeted Violence Haunts Egypt’s Sinai Christians
11/10/2020 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on November 8, 2020, three unmasked gunmen kidnapped Coptic Christian Nabil Habshy Salama (61 years old) in Egypt’s North Sinai city of Bir al-Abd. The incident was reported by his son.
The kidnapping occurred at 8:00 p.m. while the streets were busy. It was followed by shots fired into the air, and the gunmen stealing an escape car. Nabil had left his home to buy an item at a shop less than 50 meters from his house when the incident occurred.
The family has expressed much distress regarding the event. Nabil’s son Peter told Copts United, “We work in the many fields of trading, such as phones and gold. Also, my father built the only church we have here. It is named Mary, Anba Karas, and Saint Abnoub Church. Our relations with others are good.”
He continued, “How dare unmasked people kidnap my father and steal a car in the full view of all passers. No security officers or police defended my father! Bir al-Abd is a city full of security bodies because it is a city which usually faces terrorism attacks. How could armed people enter the city and commit a crime?”
The kidnapping occurred just two months after another Christian was kidnapped in al-Abtal village, located on the east side of the Suez Canal. His fate remains unknown. The targeted kidnapping of Christians living in the Sinai Peninsula is common, and their fate often ends tragically. Given this trend, Nabil’s family has expressed concern for his life and has subsequently filed a report at the local police station.
Journalist Nader Shokry wrote that Peter has appealed to President Sisi to intervene and reveal the fate of his father.
This event occurred just days after Egypt announced that it will develop the city of Saint Catherine in Sinai for the purpose of promoting faith tourism, neglecting to mention that religious persecution in Sinai has driven most local Christians from the peninsula. Those who remain in Sinai are at risk of targeted kidnappings and assassinations by extremists. The government’s response on both a humanitarian and security level is often underwhelming at best for Sinai’s Christians.
Egypt is recommended for a Special Watch List by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom in its 2020 Annual Report.
Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “We are concerned about the welfare of Nabil Habshy Salama, who has now been missing for two days. It is critical that an investigation is launched during the early days following a reported kidnapping case, as each hour that passes decreases the likelihood of a positive outcome. Consequently, we ask that Egypt takes this report seriously. We pray for the safe return of Nabil, as well as protection and comfort for his family during this difficult time.”