Egypt Coptic Christians Murdered in Terrorist Attack Outside Church

By R.E.A.L. Organization • on January 8, 2010

The Egyptian Coptic Christians celebrated Christmas on January 7, 2010, but this year’s Christmas celebration was met with terrorist gunfire and murder as Coptic Christians were gunned down outside a Coptic Christmas Eve Mass at the Mar Yohana church on the night of January 6; the terrorist attack was  in the town of Nag Hamadi in Qena province. AINA reports that eight Coptic Christians were killed in the gunfire sprayed as Copts were leaving their services, with most murdered young people in their 20s, including “a young man and his fiance and a 14-years-old boy.”  One witness told MECA: “Security came as everything was over.”

al-Masry al-Yom reported that “The bishop expressed his astonishment at the security’s failure to protect the church despite previous threats. ‘Security forces were completely absent from the scene,’ he explained. Eyewitnesses said that two police cars with at least ten security officers and guards left the church at 7:30 p.m., about an hour and a half after the start of the mass.  ”

 A Christian deacon who was killed during an attack on the Mar Yohana church in Naga Hammadi (Photo:  al-Masry al-Yom - Photographer: Pakinam Amer)

A Christian deacon who was killed during an attack on the Mar Yohana church in Naga Hammadi (Photo: al-Masry al-Yom - Photographer: Pakinam Amer)

This is the latest in a long series of acts of violence and oppression against the Coptic Christians in Egypt.  (See also additional reports by AP, BBC, Voice of the Copts, and video of attack aftermath.)

Still from YouTube Video after January 6 Attack Outside Coptic Christian Church

Still from YouTube Video after January 6 Attack Outside Coptic Christian Church

Video:

On November 23, 2009, AINA reported that “Muslim rioters looted and burned Coptic Christian businesses in the village of Abou Shousha,” with a video showing Copts trying to dowse the flames, while supremacists chanted at the end of the video.   On November 22, 2009, AINA reported on attacks on Copts, a Coptic priest, destruction of businesses, and eviction of Copts from their home in Farshoot, Egypt, intimidated by a mob of 3,000.

AINA: "A video posted by Free Copts shows the Abou Shusha fires."

November 23, 2009 - AINA: "A video posted by Free Copts shows the Abou Shusha fires."

On January 7, 2010, after the latest terrorist attack on Coptic Christians in Nag Hamadi, there were further clashes between Copts and the Egyptian police after protests outside the morgue where bodies of the latest terrorist attack on the Copts were being held.

The Guardian reported on “[c]lashes between thousands of protesters and riot police shook Egypt today after six Coptic Christians were murdered, prompting some of the worst sectarian violence the country has seen.”

Tear Gas Used Against Egyptian Copt Protesters on January 7 - ( AlMasryAlYoum.com -Photographer: ابراهيم زايد)

Tear Gas Used Against Egyptian Copt Protesters on January 7 (al-Masry al-Yom -Photographer: ابراهيم زايد)

“By daybreak hundreds of Christians had gathered at the morgue where the bodies of the dead were being held, chanting anti-government slogans and facing down security forces who fired tear gas and bullets in an effort to disperse the crowd. Stones were thrown at police and a number of ambulances were destroyed by protesters. By lunchtime the number of demonstrators had swelled as locals flocked to attend the funeral of the dead, held in the same church where they were shot the night before, and sporadic rioting broke out across the area.”

Guardian reported that “Pakinam Amer, a journalist for the al-Masry al-Yom website who was at the funeral, said the scene outside the church resembled a war zone. ‘There were tanks parked on the street and huge lines of riot police on either side, some with machine guns,’ she said. ‘All around lampposts were snapped, cars were destroyed and shop-fronts smashed in.’ ”

Guardian also reported ” ‘It is all religious now,’ said the church’s Bishop Kirollos. ‘This is a religious war, about how they can finish off the Christians in Egypt.’ ”

On January 8, Reuters reported that “Three suspects in a shooting that killed six Coptic Christians and a Muslim policeman in southern Egypt have turned themselves in after being squeezed in a police cordon, security sources said on Friday.”  Copts have long complained of the inequity of justice in Egypt and that those committing crimes against Copts routinely are not prosecuted or given lenient treatment.   Reuters also reported that “Egypt’s government denied it was sectarian violence, however, and said it was an isolated incident.”

Reports:

Voice of the Copts: Gunmen kill 7 after Christmas Mass in Egypt

Image after January 6 Attack (Photo: VoiceoftheCopts.org)

Image after January 6 Attack (Photo: Saedi Press / AP)

FreeCopts.Net: Copts Protest In South Egypt After Fatal Shootings

Two Killed in January 6 Nag Hammadi Murders (Photo: FreeCopts.net)

Two Killed in January 6 Nag Hammadi Murders (Photo: FreeCopts.net)

AINA reported that “An assassination attempt on the life of Bishop Kirollos in southern Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi was foiled tonight. Eight Copts were killed and 15 wounded as they came out of Church after celebrating the Coptic Christmas Eve midnight mass on Wednesday 6th January at 11.15 PM.”

— ” ‘I was the one intended to be assassinated by this plot, and when it failed the criminals turned round and started shooting and finishing off the young ones.’ Bishop Kirollos of the Nag Hammagi Diocese told Middle East Christian Association (MECA) today in an aired interview.”

— “Eyewitnesses saw a dark-green ‘Fiat’ 131 without registration, one Peugeot 504 car and a half-truck. The cars were driven by masked men shooting randomly at the congregation as they came out of Church. The cars then went into three nearby areas (15th March Street, 15 May Street and Railway Station Street) shooting Copts.”

— “One eye-witness told MECA that those killed were mostly young men in their early 20s. He said that most people were killed or wounded near the church, but that the cars went around shooting in other areas, resulting in two more death, besides the wounded. It was reported that among the dead was a young man and his fiance and a 14-years-old boy “.

— “Another witness criticized the absence of security. ‘Security came as everything was over, instead of trying to catch the criminals, they were interrogating us about the description of the cars.’ This video shows the shootings.”

– “An eye-witness told Coptic News Bulletin from Nag Hammadi Hospital that the situation is dire, and there is a critical shortage of blood for transfusions. ‘The Muslims promised us a wonderful Christmas, and I think the message is received now,’he said.”

AP: “Gunmen kill 7 after Christmas Mass in Egypt”
– “Three men in a car sprayed automatic gunfire into a crowd of churchgoers in southern Egypt as they left a midnight Mass for Coptic Christmas, killing at least seven people in a drive-by shooting, the church bishop and security officials said.”
– “Egypt’s Interior Ministry said the attack Wednesday just before midnight was suspected as retaliation for the November rape of a Muslim girl by a Christian man in the same town. The statement said witnesses have identified the lead attacker.”
– “The attack took place in the town of Nag Hamadi in Qena province, about 40 miles from the famous ancient ruins of Luxor. A local security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, confirmed that seven were dead and three seriously wounded.”
– “Bishop Kirollos of the Nag Hamadi Diocese said six male churchgoers and one security guard were killed. He said he had left St. John’s church just minutes before the attack.”
– ” ‘A driving car swerved near me, so I took the back door. By the time I shook hands with someone at the gate, I heard the mayhem, lots of machine gun shots,’ he said in a telephone interview. He said he saw five bodies lying on the ground when he first looked at the site of the shooting, about 600 yards from where he was.”
– “The bishop said he was concerned about violence on the eve of Coptic Christmas, which falls on Thursday, because of previous threats following the rape of the 12-year-old girl in November.”
– “He got a message on his mobile phone saying: ‘It is your turn.’ ”
– ” ‘I did nothing with it. My faithful were also receiving threats in the streets, some shouting at them: ‘We will not let you have festivities,” he said.”
– “Because of the threats, he said he ended his Christmas Mass one hour early.”
– “He said Muslim residents of Nag Hamadi and neighboring villages rioted for five days in November and torched and damaged Christian properties in the area after the rape. “

Egypt Copts killed in Christmas church attack
– BBC reports:

– “At least five Coptic Christians have been killed in a drive-by shooting outside a church in southern Egypt, officials say.”
– “The shooting came as worshippers left the church in Naj Hammadi after a midnight mass on Coptic Christmas Eve.”
– “Unidentified gunmen sprayed gunfire indiscriminately into the crowd, officials said.”
– “Two Muslims passing the church were among 10 people reportedly injured in the attack.”
– “Naj Hammadi is 40 miles (64km) from Luxor, southern Egypt’s biggest city.”
– “Coptic Christians account for about 10% of the Egypt’s population of 80 million.”

Pakistan Christian Congress — Egypt: Extremist Muslims gun down 7 Coptic Christians in Egypt

– November 2009 – Egypt: “Muslim Mob” of 3,000 — Mob Attacks Christian Businesses, Individuals — Rioting Spreads in Upper Egypt

end-copt-hate

Previous R.E.A.L. Postings on Copts

Egypt — BBC Report: “Egypt’s Coptic Christians battle for ID cards”

Egypt: Bloomberg News Reports on Bias, Oppression of Christian Copts — OIC “too busy” to respond to Bloomberg News questions

American Copts Protest in NYC and LA on Anti-Christian Sectarian Violence in Egypt

Human Rights Day — Voice of the Copts Address and Video

DC Examiner: Protection of religious minorities is major theme of 2009 Human Rights Day News Conference

Epoch Times: “International Human Rights Day — Comments Made At National Press Club”

Egypt: Human Rights Activists Call for Banning Islamic Supremacist Television Channels

Egypt: Voice of the Copts Open Letter to Coptic Pope

Egypt: Outrage over Swiss vote on minarets, while Egypt oppresses Coptic Christians

Egypt: “Muslim Mob” of 3,000 — Mob Attacks Christian Businesses, Individuals — Rioting Spreads in Upper Egypt

ICC Report: “Religious Freedom Not a US Priority toward Allies Egypt and Saudi Arabia”

Egypt Hosts OIC Conference on “Children’s Rights”

Egypt: 15 Year Old Egyptian Convert to Christianity Sends Plea to Obama — Dina el-Gowhary

Egypt: “The Disappearance, Forced Conversions, and Forced Marriages of Coptic Christian Women in Egypt”

Egyptian Christian Monk Father Aghabeos El-Moharkee Reports Death Threats

Egypt: Christian Coptic Blogger in Egypt Threatens Hunger Strike

Egyptian Security Arrests Several Christians for Praying At Home

Egyptian Christians Fear More Muslim Violence

Egypt: Coptic Blogger in Egypt Pressured to Convert in Prison

Egypt arrests 30 in Muslim-Copt clashes – Muslim residents hurl stones at church construction workers

Egypt: “Coptic Family Forced to Surrender Woman Rescued in Egypt”

Egypt: Christian Arrested for Distributing Tracts in Egypt

“Egyptian Police Arrest Christian Father for Attempting to Free Kidnapped Daughter”

Egypt: Mourners Protest Islamic Attacks on Copts in Egypt

Egyptian Christian’s murder sparks sectarian tension

Egypt: Thousands of Christians Gather to Pray for Equality in Egypt

Egyptian Copts abroad call for national strike in Egypt — on September 11

Voice of Copts report: “Egyptian Regime protecting drug dealers and abusers”

Egyptian Coptic Priest Banned From Village, Under Death Threat — Rev. Estefanos Shehata

“Egypt — Two Copts Imprisoned after Reporting Attack”

Egypt: video links on online videos regarding persecution of Christian Copts in Egypt

Egypt: Report on Christian Copt Churches Attacked

DC: Egyptian Coptic Christians Protest for Human Rights, Equality, as President Obama Meets Mubarak

Coalition of Coptic Organizations Press Release on Need for Peace for Coptic Christians of Egypt

DC: Egyptian Copt Christian Group Holds Press Conference

DC: August 18 White House Protest by Coptic Organizations

Egypt — AINA Report: “Abduction and Forced Islamization of Christian Coptic Girls Continues in Egypt”

Egypt: Report on Increasing Islamic Supremacist Intolerance to Women, Christians

Egypt: Two Christians Coptic Girls Abducted for “forced Islamization”

Egyptian Christian Father Demands Justice for His Murdered Son

Egypt: Report Christians Attacked, Building Torched for Seeking to Worship

“Egyptian Security Refuses to Return Abducted Christian Coptic Girl”

Egypt’s Christians face fresh attacks and legal battles

Egypt: “Family of Abducted Christian Coptic Teenager Assaulted By Muslim Mob”

Egypt — Convert Woman Arrested for Marrying Christian