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By Coptic Solidarity

February 14th is celebrated as Valentine’s Day in the US and some other countries. While many celebrate romantic love on this day, other types are celebrated including that between parents and children, and that between friends. It’s striking that one of the greatest demonstrations of love in recent times occurred just one day later.

On February 15, 2015, the world was stunned by a poignant image of modern martyrdom. Islamic terrorists had captured 21 men several months earlier in Libya, pressured them to renounce their faith in Christ, and convert to Islam. The 21 refused to convert, and as a result, were brutally beheaded on a Mediterranean beach. These modern martyrs chose their love for Christ learned through their Coptic Orthodox faith and heritage, over continuing to live in the present. They can be seen praying in the video footage until the moment their throats were slit.

1 John 3:16 says, “By this we know what love is: Jesus laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” The 21 embody this teaching. As we honor their sacrifice and memory, we also remember the millions of Copts who struggle through each day as living martyrs. They are oppressed and subjugated by the Egyptian government and the society at large, for no other reason than their Christian faith.

Like the elderly Soad Thabet who was attacked by a mob, stripped naked, assaulted, and paraded through her village, on the mere false accusation that her son had a romantic relationship with a Muslim woman. Local police refused to help Ms. Thabet then, and the Egyptian judiciary has denied her justice in the years following the attack.

The legacy of the 21 martyrs inspires Coptic Solidarity to continue advocating and creating awareness of the chronic persecution the indigenous Copts of Egypt face, so that they may one day achieve equality and the ability to practice their faith fully without hindrance or fear of persecution.

Icon image created by Kirollos Kilada – @kilada_copticicons

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