Priest Murdered in Latest Extremist Attack against Egypt's Christians

Published October 13th, 2017 - 12:37 GMT
Egypt's Coptic christian Minority has been targetted by extremists (AFP)
Egypt's Coptic christian Minority has been targetted by extremists (AFP)
  • A Coptic cleric known has Samaan Shehata was stabbed to death in Cairo on Thursday
  • He and another man who was injured in the attack were walking in the capital's El-Salam city when they were attacked by a man with a meat cleaver
  • The attack is the latest against the country's Christian minority following a spate of church bombings earlier this year
  • A motive for the attack is not yet known although one man has been arrested by police
  • Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church has come under attack again after a priest was stabbed to death in Cairo.

The cleric, identified as Samaan Shehata, who is originally from the Beni Suef district was killed in Cairo’s El-Salam city.

It is thought that the attacker struck the priest’s head with a meat cleaver before fleeing the scene.

A suspect, named as Ahmed El-Sonbaty, was later arrested by police.

El-Sonbaty was charged earlier this year for assaulting his father and setting his house on fire, according to the Interior Ministry.

A statement from the church said the attack took place Thursday and that the priest died later in hospital.

A second priest was also injured in the brutal attack.

"In an unfortunate incident, archpriest Samaan Shehata of St. Julius’s church in Ezbet Girgis in El-Fashn, along with priest Beymen Moftah, of El-Malak church in Matay, were assaulted while in El-Salam City,” read a statement from the Coptic Church.

A motive for the attack is not known yet.

However, Bishop Astafanous of Fashn, Biba and Samasta said the attacker was an "extremist" with a criminal record.

The incident represents the latest attack on the country’s Christian community in recent months.

A spate of suicide bombings claimed by ISIS on Egyptian soil has slain more than 100 Christians since Dec. 2016.

A blast at Cairo’s main Coptic cathedral in December left 25 dead while further bombings at two other churches killed at least 47 people on Palm Sunday this year.

Meanwhile, a bus filled with Copts, including children, was attacked by terrorists near the remote monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor in Maghagha in May, in an attack which left 29 dead.

Egyptian leaders have come under criticism for their failure to protect the country’s Christian minority, which makes up 10 percent of the country’s population.

Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced a three-month state of emergency on Sunday night in response to the bombings.

The emergency law, which was renewed again earlier this week, has given police unprecedented powers to crack down on terrorism and has been used by the security forces to crackdown on all forms of dissent.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis referenced extremism when he visited Egypt in April this year and called for religious leaders to defeat the  “incendiary logic of evil,” and “the polluted air of hatred into the logic of fraternity.”

He added that violence in the name of God is “the negation of every authentic religious expression.”

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