By Raymond Ibrahim – Special for Coptic Solidarity –
A Muslim policeman charged with guarding a Coptic Christian church shot and killed two Copts—a father, 49, and his son, 21—Wednesday in Minya, Egypt.Eyewitnesses say a verbal quarrel had ensued before the officer pulled out his gun and opened fire on the two men.
Video footage of the incident shows the killer-cop brandishing his gun as he stalks around the bloodied but still moving Christians on the ground. He loudly curses them—or all Copts in general?—as “mother-f*****s. Two other police officers arrive and nonchalantly watch.
The office of the prosecutor charged the murderer with “beating that led to death”—as opposed to “killing” which could lead to a death sentence; seven years in prison is the maximum penalty for the current charge.
Thousands of angry Christians attended the funeral today, chanting kyri eleison (“Lord have mercy!), and “One, two—but where are the rights of the martyrs!”
Coptic Solidarity said in a statement today:
Whatever punishment—if any!—the killer policeman may end up getting, the real culprit in this heinous crime is nothing but the authorities themselves, as they have allowed impunity to killers of Copts time and again, making it easy for anybody having an argument with a Copt to pull a gun, or knife, and just kill.
The outright slaughter of Copts by Muslim officers is not unprecedented in Egypt. In 2011 an off-duty policeman boarded a train, identified some of its passengers as Coptic Christians (based on the tattoo of the cross on some of their wrists) and opened fire, killing one elderly Christian and wounding four others — even as he shouted Islam’s war cry, “Allahu Akbar.” More common are incidents such as that which transpired in the village of Beni Suef a few months back: a Muslim “policeman tasked with guarding the church from extremists instead aggressively entered the church and hurled insults at the congregation, calling them infidels. The other policemen reportedly remained outside of the church during the incident.” One member of the church said, “The Christian villagers are very distressed and want a strong stand from official persons.”
Unfortunately, “official persons” of all sorts tend not to be much better. According to the World Watch List (2018), Egyptian “officials at any level from local to national” are “strongly responsible” for the “oppression” of Egypt’s Christians. “Government officials,” the report adds, “also act as drivers of persecution through their failure to vindicate the rights of Christians and also through their discriminatory acts which violate the fundamental rights of Christians.”
While the authorities themselves are sometimes the persecutors, as in this most recent incident — or the ongoing phenomenon of Muslim military men beating Christian soldiers to death on account of their faith—they more often function as enablers, allowing a culture of impunity to thrive.
Earlier today Coptic Bishop Makarious likened the killing of two Christians at the hand of an officer guarding their church as having “a fox guard a hen house.” He added that this incident is worse than the St. Samuel Monastery attacks—where scores of Copts were massacred by Islamic terrorists on two separate occasions—as it involves, not outlaws, but a lawman.
All this begs the question: whereas it may be understandable that President Sisi cannot eliminate terrorism—after all, terrorists operate surreptitiously and work “in the shadows”—what about the fact that his very own government openly persecutes and occasionally even murders Coptic Christians—all right under his nose?