Amid heart breaking tears, a funeral service was held for a Coptic family that was killed in Sirte, Libya, at the hands of Islamist terrorists of Ansar al-Sharia. The funeral was held at the Mar-Girgis (St George) church in the Delta town of Tanta, 90km north west of Cairo; the Bishop Anba Pola presided over the service. The two surviving daughters, Carla and Carol, aged 10 and 9, attended the funeral. Anba Pola could not hold back the tears at the sight of the two young girls weeping.
The Governor of Gharbiya—Tanta is the capital city of Gharbiya—Muhammad Naeem was present at the ceremony, as were leading State officials and figures of the police and military. A large number of clergy from Tanta and neighbouring parishes took part in the service.
The Coptic medical doctor Magdy Sobhy Tawfiq and his wife Sahar Talaat Rizq were killed on Tuesday 23 December by Islamist terrorists who broke into the family home at dawn at the doctors’ housing complex of the Jarf health centre where the father work. Maged Sobhy Tawfiq, the doctor’s brother who works in Tripoli and who rushed to Sirte to take care of the two daughters who survived the crime, said that the girls testified that masked men had gone in, chained the father and threatened him. He mother pleaded for his safety, offering them all the money they had at home and her jewellery, but they took neither. They shot her dead in the children’s room, kidnapped the eldest girl, and shot the doctor as they left.
The killers carried away the eldest daughter Katrine, 14, whose body was later found, cast in the desert. She had been shot three times, twice in the head and once in the chest.
Local officials say neither money nor jewellery were missing from the Tawfiq home, meaning that the cause of the killing was probably their religion.
Trying to leave Libya
Tawfiq and his wife had located in Sirte in 2001 where he worked at a Diabetes centre for two years, then moved to the Jarf centre where he has worked and resided with his family ever since. International Christian Concern (ICC) quotes Tamer Rizq, the wife’s brother who stayed with the family in Sirte for two years before returning to Egypt, saying that the doctor was loved and respected for the affectionate help he extended to everyone around. Rizq said the family had been trying hard to leave Libya in the recent years because Tawfiq felt it was no longer safe there; the Islamists held control of the region and his eldest daughter Katrine was threatened that she should not leave home without wearing the Islamic veil. The father, however, was denied his passport which was in the hands of his employer on grounds that his contract had not yet expired. Both Libyan and Egyptian authorities claimed they could do nothing for him.
The crime has left Copts incensed at the inaction of government officials, but much more so at the minimal coverage of the crime by the local media. Social networking sites have been teeming with bitter remarks by Copts who question all the fine talk propagated by moderate Muslims about peaceful and compassionate coexistence between Muslims and Christians in Egypt. “What does the wide media disregard of this crime mean?” one blogger posted. “Does no one care?”
30 December 2014