Middle East and North Africa

Police arrest Coptic mother after her baby was killed

 

A Coptic Christian mother of three has been charged with murder by Egyptian police after reporting the kidnap and killing of her new born baby by assailants who entered her home and grabbed her baby Mohrael from her arms.

The intruders entered her home on  2017 September in Barba village in Asyut governorate, Upper Egypt.

Azza told World Watch Monitor that her husband was out visiting his sister. There was knocking on the locked door and assuming it was her husband, She opened to see three masked men who pushed her inside, grabbed the baby from her arms and then beat her calling her “kafirs”(infidels) and fled with the baby.

Nour Bakhit Khalil, 30, Azza’s husband said when his wife came to him screaming, “I immediately went to the police station to report the kidnapping of my daughter,” he said. “They asked me to fetch my wife and our ID cards and then to come back to file a report. None of them went back with me to investigate the matter or search for my daughter.”

When he got back home from the police station, Nour was told that his daughter was found, with her throat slit and the body dumped among the plants just 10 meters from their home. Again, he returned to the police and reported the killing. The police promised to find and arrest the perpetrators.

Four days later, on 11 September, the police raided their home, Nour said, “The officers slapped my wife in the kitchen and said that she had killed her daughter and arrested her.

“They alleged that my wife suffers from psychological problems because of her desire to have a male rather than a female child, as she (already) has two girls. Allegedly she killed Mohrael because I dislike having girls and wanted a boy instead of this girl.”

“We are simple people, we had no enemies, and there isn’t any trouble between us and anyone in the village,” said Nour who declares that the charge against his wife is “false, irrational and unreasonable”.

“My wife is a very good woman. She is a religious person who has a strong relationship with God and could not do something like killing her daughter,” he said. “She and I were very happy when God blessed us with this little girl. Mohrael was very beautiful and cute and a great gift from God to us and we loved her so much. Azza stayed up every night to take care of her, playing with and nursing her. How then could she kill her?”

“I wasn’t angry because my wife had a girl. On the contrary, I love the girls and I was very happy when my wife gave birth to Mohrael. Saint Mary was a girl. Boys and girls are gifts from God and none can object this gift,” said Nour.

Fr Philemon Abdallah Mashreqi, Nour and Azza’s priest at Barba’s Mar Girgis Coptic church, said, “They are being targeted and there isn’t any protection from the police.”

Fr. Mashreqi explained that homes owned by Copts have been attacked and burgled and gave an example of a
robbery at the local Church of the Renaissance of Holiness in which the perpetrator was caught on camera. He said the police failed to make an arrest.

Awny Mousa was kidnapped last month, the priest said, “His kidnappers contacted his family demanding ransom for his return. His family then headed to the police station, asking the police to help them, but the police didn’t do anything for them and they had to pay the required amount to see the release of Awny”.

He said that the police were indifferent to the plight of the Coptic community which in turn encouraged “criminals to continue with their aggressive acts against us.”

Nour and Azza’s church has hired a lawyer on their behalf. The church released a statement asking people to “contribute even a small part to pay for these costs.”

 

Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos.

Image Credits: CC/Baby Mohreal/World Watch Monitor/Google Images/Copts