05/02/2021 Egypt (International Christian Concern) – Two recent events as reported by ICC have shown the continued persecution and potential violence that Christians in Egypt face. Now, new information on the events reveals deeper levels. On April 17, ISIS published a video of the execution of Coptic Christian Nabil Habshi who was kidnapped last November. On April 3, a Coptic woman and her six-year-old son were murdered by their tok-tok driver.
Nabil Habshi was kidnapped on November 7, 2020 and five days later one of his sons, Peter, received a call demanding approximately $127,550 USD, not as hostage ransom but as a jizya tax from the Copts in their home village. Jizya tax has been understood to be a fee paid by non-Muslims to Muslim rulers in recognition and subjection to the state and its laws, in return for relative permission to practice their faith. Forty-eight hours later, the kidnappers more than doubled the tax. Nabil’s son and the community were unable to gather the funds demanded. At this, ISIS threatened to kill two of the brothers and their father Nabil. Peter spoke to his father for the last time at the end of February. Even now though the family continues to face death threats.
Another suspicious component to Nabil’s case is that of a photo being circulated after his death. His family claims that they were unfamiliar with the photo and suspect that it was taken by those watching him prior to his kidnapping. Because Nabil was kidnapped with his phone, which was later dropped and returned to the family, Peter and the rest of the family are concerned for their safety now that their names and phone numbers are known by ISIS.
The murder of Maryam Sa’ad, the Coptic Christian killed in early April, has confessed to the killing of her as well as her six-year-old son. The killer, Abu-Muhammad al-Harami, was caught on April 5 and remains in police custody.
Eye witness accounts relay that al-Harami was a neighbor to Maryam and her husband Ekram and often drove the family around. In the confessed premeditated murder, al-Harami followed Maryam and her children who took another tok-tok, overcame their vehicle and then stopped them. Following a verbal altercation, the driver took out a butcher’s knife and stroke Maryam three times on her head and back. He then hit the young boy on the head. Both reportedly died on the spot.
As reported by ICC, “Egypt’s human rights record has greatly worsened over recent years. Whereas during the early 2010s terrorists such as ISIS were the main perpetrators of Christian persecution, today the main perpetrator is the government. Dissent is silenced, human rights activism is suppressed, and truth about violations is clouded.” Nabil and Maryam’s cases show that both possible persecution perpetrators may still be true for Egypt’s Christians.
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