Middle East and North Africa

Copts in Egypt still ‘feel’ unsafe amid war on ‘Islamic State’

The Egyptian government said this week that it has prevented another terror attack on the Christian Coptic community in the city of Arish, North Sinai.

On Monday (19 June) suspected Jihadists opened fire in Arish and deployed a truck full of explosives. According to the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior, security forces repelled the attack and destroyed the vehicle before it reached a checkpoint.”

The Coptic Christians in Egypt are however not satisfied with the security arrangements to protect the minority christian communities in Egypt. “Security, the government, and the army are negligent. No one protects us other than God. It is known that Christians are not protected in this country,” said Kirolos Ishak, a university student whose father was also killed when IS jihadists killed 30 Coptic Christians on their way to a monastery in Minya in southern Egypt for a Sunday worship service.

Coptic Christians say they are undergoing increasing persecution with an escalation of attacks on the Christians in the last few months which has so far left about 100 Christians dead in Egypt.

President Sisi, has embarked on a war to crush Islamic State militants and to protect Christians. Soon after the attack on churches in April, he declared a state of emergency. This has not however, given the Coptic Christians much consolation.

“Our Muslim neighbors say ‘you chose Sisi’ but ever since he came to power we are the ones who have suffered, not them,” said Hanaa whose son, Mina, was in a truck that was attacked that day. “Churches and people have been attacked, people have been kidnapped, we are suffering.”

Hanaa Youssef and Mina Habib

Mina Habib, 10 years old, who is currently undergoing therapy at a local church, said, Mina said there were around 15 gunmen. As their pickup truck approached the masked men on the road where, apparently a vehicle ahead of them had been atta

cked, Mina said, “We saw dead people, just dumped on the ground,” He recounted. “They asked my father for identification then told him to recite the Muslim profession of faith. He refused, said he was Christian. They shot him and everyone else in the car.”

“They saw us in the back of the truck. They made us get down and a man wearing camouflage like the army pointed his gun at us, but another one in all black told him to let us go. Every time they shot someone they would yell God is great.” He said he cannot explain why he and Marco, his brother, are alive when other children were killed by the jihadists.

Hanaa Youssef, Mina’s mother now keeps her children at home except when the boys go out for therapy in church. “Ever since the accident I am always at home,” said Mina.