Copts in the Upper Egyptian provinces of Assiut and Minya, known to be strongholds of Islamist groups, have been victims of a spate of crime lately which left several killed or kidnapped.
In Assiut, the schoolteacher Hanan Ayad was strangled to death yesterday morning. Ayad’s husband had taken their two young children to school, and she was alone in the house getting ready to go to work. The police are investigating the crime.
Yesterday also saw the Assiut Coptic doctor, Milad Shawqy, 45, kidnapped and led to an unknown destination. His family was contacted and asked to pay a ransom of EGP500,000. The doctor had been driving home late in the evening from his clinic in the nearby village of al-Atimiya, Badari, when he was stopped by unknown assailants with machine guns. He had with him his young assistant and a Muslim pharmacist who works in the same village and who needed a lift to town. The assailants let the two men go, but took Shawqy away. His family filed a report with the police.
Last Friday, another Coptic young man Waheed Abdel-Moniem Yacoub (photo) who had been kidnapped in the Assiut village of Habalsa in Quossiya was found dead. Yacoub’s body, which bore signs of torture, was packed in a sac and thrown by the sidewalk. His kidnappers had demanded a ransom of EGP1,200,000 from his family, but the family was not able to come up with the huge sum.
And in Minya, again last week, the 26-year-old Coptic barber Hany Shafiq Zakher was found shot to death in a small field which he plants with a friend near his home village of Dalga in Deir Muwwas. Zakher leaves behind a young widow and a baby boy.
That same day, another Copt from Dalga, the 40-year-old Henein Abdullah Henein was abducted at gunpoint. He is still held at some unknown place.
The Copts of Dalga especially have been victims of Islamist attacks ever since the Islamist president Muhammad Mursi was ousted on 3 July in the wake of the 30-million mass protests on 30 June that demanded his ouster. Some 43 Coptic houses in Dalga were plundered and burned; their owners were obliged to leave their homes since they had become un-habitable. Many other Coptic families left town for fear of their lives, and because they could not afford to pay the tribute money regularly demanded of them at the hands of the Islamists. Several of the abandoned Coptic houses were seized by the Islamists, and the original owner names erased and replaced by the Islamists’s names as the new owners.
Reported by Basma William, Tereza Hanna, Marguerite Adel
4 September 2013