The Copts in the governorate of Sohag some 450km south of Cairo have been raising complaints to the highest level of authorities in Egypt because of the daily crimes committed against them while the police does nothing to protect them. In the towns of Tahta and Tema, Copts have been victim of kidnap for ransom and a number have been killed either during the kidnap or if they did not pay ransom.
Rimon Gad Bishai from Tahta told Watani that the kidnap gangs were well known to the townspeople and the police, but that the police cannot confront them because the gangsters are armed with heavy weapons. “Only the military can overcome these gangs,” Bishai said. Bishai’s father was killed last week at the hands of the armed gangs who were trying to kidnap his other son, a pharmacist. The father was shot in the head and died immediately. The armed gangsters fled the scene unresisted; “no one could stand up to them,” Bishai said.
According to Bishai, the last few weeks have seen some nine Copts kidnapped and ransomed by their families. Other than the elder Bishai, another Copt named Sadeq Hakim from the village of Khazindariya in Tahta lost his life in a brawl with the gangsters some two months ago. Hakim was killed, his son Mamdouh was shot in the leg and another son Milad was kidnapped. Milad hakim is now home after his family paid up.
Last week another Coptic trader who goes by the name of Emad was shot in the leg as he resisted his kidnappers. He now suffers a permanent disability.
The Copts, who constitute a thriving trader and professional community in Tahta, make easy targets for the gangsters. “The police let them [the kidnap gangs] run free, but break into our homes collecting unlicensed guns. They neither protect us nor let us protect ourselves,” he said.
22 November 2014