09 Sep 2014 2:28 pm
“The only acceptable way to go through this grizzly affair is the prompt application of the law.” This was the comment provided by Anba Morqos, Bishop of Shubral-Kheima, on the killing of the Copt Mina Bareh, 27, three days ago. Anba Morqos had just visited the Bareh [extended] family for condolence when he said that.
Stabbed 25 times
The body of the Copt Mina Bareh was found in the district of Mantai in Shubral-Kheima, north of Cairo, stabbed 25 times in different parts of his body. Bareh, who leaves behind a toddler son and a pregnant wife, had gone missing five days earlier. His family received a phone call informing them their son was kidnapped and demanding a ransom of EGP100,000. The family could not come up with the sum, and Bareh was killed.
The Copts in the neighbourhood were furious with the police who had done nothing to find or rescue Bareh. The funeral service was held for Bareh at the Church of the Holy Virgin in Begam, far from his home district of Mantai, in order to avoid any potential sectarian clashes.
Bareh had been on his way home after having collected a sum of money in his trading business. He was accompanied by a young Muslim who goes by the name of Sunbul, and who knew Bareh was carrying money and who, it is rumoured, arranged for the kidnapping. Three other young Muslims were also caught and are being detained for two weeks pending investigation.
Anba Morqos tried to persuade the Barehs to officially accept condolences for the death of their son, assuring them that the Church will support their call for legal justice. The family, however, said they would only accept home visits from close friends but would not hold the traditional condolence ceremony till the killers are brought to justice. This is an ominous sign that the Barehs, whose roots go to rural Upper Egypt, are intent on conducting their own vendetta should the law not bring justice. Only then, according to tradition, can they honourably accept condolence.
Representatives of the Coptic youth union, the Maspero Youth Union (MYU), also paid the family a condolence visit. Among them was Ermiya William who demanded that justice should take place and that the Barehs should be placed under no pressure whatsoever to accept ‘conciliation’. Conciliation is an out-of-court settlement traditionally overseen by the elders of the community, and in modern times by the local security and religious officials, for the sake of social peace. In case one of the conflicting parties is Coptic, however, ‘conciliation’ has been notoriously used to force the Copts into giving up their legal rights and the culprits then go free. Since the Copts are usually too reluctant to do that, they have always been pressured and threatened till they succumb to conciliation.
“No believer’s blood may be taken for a dhimmi’s”
Mina Nady, a Bareh maternal relative, told Watani the family had already received by phone death threats should there be a court ruling of death penalty against the killers of Bareh. Courts have been historically reluctant to issue such sentences before, basing on a sharia (Islamic law) principle which says: “No believer’s (Muslim’s) blood may be taken for a dhimmi’s (non-Muslim’s)”. In many cases, murder charges were turned into manslaughter to justify lenient sentences. The Egyptian Constitution stipulates the principles of sharia as the main source of legislation.
9 September 2014