The southern town of Kom-Ombo in Aswan was the scene of a grotesque crime against Copts earlier this week. Mahmoud Muhammad Ali,
a young man in his early thirties who works as a medical representative for a pharmaceutical drugs company, drove his car and went on a stabbing spree against Copts. Madeleine Wagih Demian, 30, lost her life, and three other Copts were injured.
Eyewitnesses say that Ali stopped his black Renault car at around 7pm in front of the pharmacy of Michael Badir on Port said Street, the main street in Kom-Ombo. Testimonies differ on whether there was one or two men with him in the car; in all cases they never left the vehicle. Inside the pharmacy, Ali tried to assault the men working there with a knife, but they confronted him and he fled, wielding his knife. He rushed to his car and headed to al-Mahabba pharmacy further down the road where Demian was tending shop alone. He stabbed her in the neck, and she died directly. As he left, he encountered Marianne Kamal Shafiq, 18, who was heading home from an errand. He stabbed her too, but only injured her in the shoulder. Shafiq was rushed to hospital for treatment but is already recuperating at home now.
Ali’s third attempted attack was at al-Shifaa pharmacy where the men fought with him, but two were injured.
The attacks were reported to the police. They were able to catch Ali who had fled town. He was caught some 25km on the road out of Kom-Ombo. The Renault car was not found.
Shafiq’s father told Watani that his daughter was asked to identify Ali at the police station after he was caught. Shafiq says the stabber recognised his daughter Marianne and acted out the stabbing. He glanced at her and said he was sorry he stabbed her. He confessed all the stabbings. When asked why he did that, he remained silent. According to Shafiq, Umda is a cousin to the Muslim Brother (MB) Muhammad al-Umda who now stands trial together with other MB leaders.
Demian’s funeral the following day saw the procession move from the church of Mar-Girgis (St George) in Kom-Ombo to the cemetery, all the way chanting “Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy)” According to Father Filopatir of Mar-Girgis’s, a large number of Kom-Ombo Muslims marched in the procession. But eyewitnesses told Watani that the MB held a march of their own as the procession passed, and that a relative of Ali, Ahmed Fadel, shouted out threats to the Copts of more terror to come. The guardsman standing guard on the church filed a report of the threats with the police.
But what really outraged the Copts were leaks that Ali’s lawyers were claiming he was “mentally unbalanced”. “He was known as a respectable young man,” Fr Arsanius who also serves at Mar-Girgis’s says. “He had good relations with Copts. We don’t know what changed. How can he be pronounced mentally deranged without a proper medical and psychiatric examination?”
Mentally unbalanced, again?
The claim of mental unbalance brings to mind three bitter incidents against Copts.
The first was in Alexandria in April 2006 when a young man named Mahmoud Salah Abdel-Razeq went about in broad daylight stabbing Copts in three different churches. He killed the 60-year-old Noshy Atta Garas and injured six Copts. Abdel-Razeq was later declared mentally deranged.
The second incident occurred in Bagour, Menoufiya, in 2009. A Muslim extremist named Usama al-Bohyagi chased the 64-year-old Copt Abdu Gorgi along the small street where he was opening his shop, stabbing him all the way until his bowels fell out and Bohyagi beheaded him. He rushed away on motorbike to two other destinations where he injured Adeeb Messeiha, 40, in the head and chest; and the young Copt Hany Barsoum in the neck. Bohyagi was pronounced mentally deranged.
In 2011, a junior policeman Amer Ashour Abdel-Zaher boarded the train heading from Upper Egypt to Cairo and shot at Coptic families on the carriage. They were conspicuous because their women were unveiled. He killed one Copt, Fathy Mossaad Ghattas, 71, and injured five. Abdel-Zaher’s lawyers claimed he was suffering mental unbalance, but the medical authorities declared him perfectly sane and he was handed a death sentence in March 2012.
12 February 2014