The Copt Nabil Saber Fawzy, 40, who was shot dead on the evening of Saturday 6 May by Islamist jihadis in his hometown of al-Arish, has been buried in Cairo by his family.
Mr Fawzy was among the Copts who had fled Arish last February in the wake of a wave of Islamist threats against the town’s Copts, and a wave of killings that left seven Copts dead in the space of three weeks. They were killed in broad daylight: on the street, in their shops or in their homes. A barber, Mr Fawzy went back to Arish to check on his home and his barbershop. Sensing that matters had relatively calmed down, he reopened his shop and resumed his work, but left his wife and two sons, aged 8 and 12, in Port Said. He had barely settled down for three days when four armed, masked men shot him dead as he stood in his shop.
Local security authorities are investigating the crime.
Once Mr Fawzy’s funeral was over, Watani talked to his widow Hala Qadry, a young woman in her early thirties. In mourning black, Ms Qadry lamented the fact that her husband had to pay his life for refusing to remain idle and insisting on earning his livelihood by going back to work.
“I learned of his death from my Muslim neighbour in Arish,” she said. “I was stunned, since I had only been with him on the phone a few minutes earlier. He was in his shop then, and had called to check on me and the boys. In reply to my anxiousness, he said he could not let us live on handouts from the Church or State, and had to earn his livelihood as he’d always done.
“My neighbour said that the masked men who shot my husband had had called him as he sat at his shop: ‘Nabil’. As he looked up they screamed at him: ‘You kafir’, literally infidel, and rained bullets on his body by the automatic rifles they carried. Eyewitnesses say he directly bled so much his body was practically drained of blood.
“But the worst part,” Ms Qadry said while unable to hold back her tears, “was that I couldn’t muster the courage to tell my boys, Bishoi and Pola. Bishoi kept on asking me why I was in black and why I cried so much, but I found it impossible to tell him. Finally, he got to know his father had died as we stood in church for the funeral service. ‘Who’s in that coffin?’ he asked. Before I could answer him he realised it was his father. He broke into uncontrollable tears.”
Some 355 Coptic families had to flee Arish last February in the wake of the Islamist threats and killings. They relocated mainly in the Suez Canal town of Ismailiya; but some chose to settle down in other places in Egypt.
The Coptic Church and the Egyptian government worked to smooth their relocation by providing them with new homes, free health care, job opportunities, and enrolling their children in schools and universities equivalent to the ones they left in Arish.
A vicious battle is taking place in North Sinai between the Islamists jihadis and the Egyptian military and police.
9 May 2017