East Africa

Egyptian Christians flee Sinai, President Asisi calls for protection of Christians.

Islamic State terror group in the Sinai region have targeted and killed at least eight Christians in North Sinai province of Egypt. The Islamist terror group on Friday destroyed CCTV cameras and then vandalised properties, shops, and businesses belonging to Christians in the Arish area. On Friday 25 families fled the violence and sought refuge in the Evangelical Church in Suez Canal city of Ismailia. Church officials said 100 families out of around 160 in North Sinai had fled from Arish. About 200 students studying in Arish, the province’s capital, have also left.

Before this wave of attacks an Arish residents said militants had circulated leaflets and death lists online and on the streets warning Christians to lea
ve or die. So-called Islamic State released a video on February 19 threatening Egypt’s Christians saying, “Oh crusaders in Egypt, this attack that struck you in your temple is just the first with many more to come, God willing.

“My father is the second name on their list; anyone Christian they put on the list” said Munir Adel, a vegetable seller who fled his home in North Sinai on Friday.

“I am not going to wait for death,” said Rami Mina, who left Arish on Friday morning. “I shut down my restaurant and got out of there. These people are ruthless.”

Seven Christians were killed in Arish between January 30 and last Thursday. Islamic State in North Sinai has claimed responsibility for the killings. Five of the seven were shot, one man was beheaded and another set on fire by the terror group.

The Coptic Orthodox Church on Friday denounced, “The recurring terrorist incidents in North Sinai targeting Christian citizens.” Official Nabil Shukrallah of the Evangelical Church in Ismailia, 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of Cairo said on Sunday that over 100 families from the city of el-Arish and nearby had passed through the church since Friday making the number of fleeing Christians to about 500 people.

The Evangelical Church has taken in all the families who arrived scared, exhausted and in need of supplies. The Church has received donations from several parishes and is assisting the refugees. The people have opened their doorin and around the city where they are now being housed. The government has also assisted.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met, on Saturday, with the Prime Minister and Defence Ministers, Interior and Intelligence chiefs and discussed, ‘the importance to resist all attempts to sabotage stability and security in Egypt’, and “to completely eradicate terrorism in northern Sinai and defeat any attempts to target civilians or to undermine the unity of the national fabric”, his office said on Thursday. Asisi ordered the government to take all necessary measures to help resettle Christians who have fled Egypt’s Northern Sinai.

North Sinai’s deputy police chief, Major General Mostafa Al Razaz, said the  security forces in the region were capable of handling the “crisis” saying he had added more patrols and checkpoints. But Christians are skeptical. “The government does nothing. There is no security in Sinai, they can’t even protect themselves,” said Mr Adel. “It was an officer who told us to leave.”