Egypt: four Christians killed, threatening video published

Christians in Egypt request prayer after the killing of four Christians in the last three weeks, and after the publication on 19th February of a video calling for further killings.


Wa’el Youssef was shot dead by militants in front of his wife and son in his shop in the North Sinai town of al-Arish on 31st January. Two weeks later militants in the same town shot and killed two more Christians: Bahgat William and Adel Shawqi. A fourth Christian, Gamal Tawfiq, was shot and killed last Thursday, 16th February.

Three days later, on 19th February, a video was published by Daesh (the so-called Islamic State group) which called for Christians in Egypt to be killed. The video featured a recording of the suicide bomber who blew himself up in a church adjacent to the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo on 11th December. The bomber killed 29 people.

Five years ago many Christians left the North Sinai region after a priest and a Christian trader were killed and leaflets were distributed which gave Christians 48 hours to leave the region or be killed.

Since the overthrow of former President Morsi in 2013, numerous Christians have returned to the region. Now Christians are fearful again. One Christian resident told the Watani newspaper: “We have been leading very hard lives since the last four killings… We can’t leave because our livelihoods are here, our homes are here, and we have nowhere else to go. We keep on asking ourselves every day ‘Who’s next?’”

Islamic militants also regularly attack security personnel in the North Sinai region and abduct or kill civilians suspected of working with the security forces.

Last November in al-Arish they killed Suleiman Abu Haraz, a highly respected 100-year-old Sufi Muslim leader. Shortly afterwards they issued a threat against Sufi Muslims in Egypt, saying they must renounce their ways or be killed.