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11/18/2020 Egypt (International Christian Concern) –  The death sentence for Ahmed Saeed al-Sunbati has been upheld following his appeal hearing on November 9th in Egypt. The defendant had murdered Father Samaan Shehata, a priest who was traveling to collect donations for his church.

The defense had argued that Ahmed was mentally ill, whereas the prosecution had argued that Ahmed as an extremist from a family known to harass, intimidate, and even threaten harm to Christians. In 2017, Ahmed followed Father Samaan and later stabbed him multiple times. It was an intentional and premeditated killing.

The trajectory of this court case highlights some of the tensions that Egyptian Christians have to navigate when they are victims of a crime and wish to pursue justice through the courts. The defense commonly argues mental illness, frustrating Christians that the Islamic extremism which threatens their existence is put into the same category as a mental illness.

By mistaking Islamic extremism with a mental illness, the courts are actually weakening protections for the truly mentally disabled and strengthening the ability of extremists to pursue their goals. Thankfully, in this case, the courts made the distinction and did not accept the defense’s line of argument.

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