Looking death in the eye

07-08-2013 06:40 PM

Basma William

In Assiut, Divine Providence saves a young man from being buried alive at the hands of the Islamists

I saw him lying on the hospital bed in the intensive care unit of the Assiut hospital in which he was receiving treatment, signs of brutal torture everywhere on his body from head to toe. I found it difficult, and heart-rending, to realise that this was the wiry, active 22-year-old Abadir Samir Edward, a student at Assiut University’s Faculty of Commerce, and a deacon at our church in Assiut, the capital city of Upper Egypt that lies some 350km south of Cairo. 
I had met Abadir three weeks ago in the wake of the death of his dear friend Abanoub Adel who was killed at the hands of the Islamists as he took part in demonstrations in Assiut that called for the overthrow of the Islamist regime. At the time, Abadir spoke about his close friendship with Abanoub, and tearfully recalled how he held him in his arms when he was shot in the neck by the Islamist Mursi supporters, and how he rushed him to hospital where, a few hours later, he breathed his last. 
Now it was Abadir’s turn to tell of his story with the Islamists. 
“I was with my friends Kyrillos Adel and Abanoub Khairy in a cybercafé on the evening of Sunday 28 July. We didn’t realise time was running until we discovered it was already some 45 minutes past midnight, and our families must be worried sick about us, given the chaotic situation with the Islamists fomenting unrest in Assiut. We left the café, only to find commotion on the street, with men running around and groups of bearded Islamists loudly cheering for Mursi as they headed towards the Omar Makram mosque, the stronghold of the Islamists in the city. Some young men started hurling stones at us; my friends managed to run away, but I found myself held from the back, and a hoarse voice asking: ‘Where is the gun you have? The one you shot at us with?’
“Of course I denied I had shot at them, or that I had a gun in the first place,” Abadir continued, “But the man who held me took out a sickle-like knife, put it at my neck, and screamed: ‘You shot at us.’ I tried to run away, but he pulled me and started attacking my body with the knife. Other bearded men joined him; they hit me and beat me up with stones and clubs. They tore my clothes and bruised my whole body. In a brief moment I was able to break from them and ran, naked and bleeding, into a nearby shop where I desperately asked the owners to hide me. But my attackers came in after me, there were some 40 of them, and caught me.
“Lord have mercy”
“They hurled me into a parked car. One of them got in beside me, caught me in a stranglehold by the neck, and started striking me on the face and anywhere his hands could reach He tried to gouge out my eyes. I remember thinking I had to be strong, but I was already fainting. 
“I could hear curses against Christians and Christianity all the time, and one man said: ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet, you Christians’. I kept my calm; I had no strength to answer, but I remember praying all the time ‘Lord, have mercy; Mother Mary, support me’. 
“The car finally stopped. I was pulled out, dragged on the ground something like three metres, then hurled into a hole. My eyes were swollen and closed; I could see nothing.” 
Abadir says that, after what seemed like 10 minutes, two men came and carried him out of the hole, one holding him by the arms and the other by his feet. He was again placed in a car and taken on a short journey where he found himself before the Assiut chiefs of intelligence and security. “They gave me some water to drink, and rushed me to Assiut University hospital.”
abadir 2.JPG
At this point in Abadir’s story, his uncle Albert Edward who is a medical doctor, picks the thread and says that the family received a panicked call from Abadir’s friends Kyrillos and Abanoub to say that he had fallen into the hands of the Islamists. “We directly called the police and reported the incident. We had to wait for what seemed like ages but was actually a couple of hours when Lieutenant Osman Abdel-Gawwad called and told us Abadir was in hospital.” 
Abadir had to undergo surgery to close a deep wound in his back, and is now already recovering. His body carries bandages everywhere, and his face is scarred and severely swollen. But he is alive and well.
General Abul-Qassem Abu-Deif, head of Assiut security, told Watani that the car Abadir was caught in belonged to a senior Muslim Brotherhood member in Assiut, who has been implicated in other cases of torturing opponents of political Islam. Abadir, General Abu-Deif says, was cast into the hole in the ground and would have been buried alive had he not been rescued in time. 
“I am grateful to Assiut security for saving me,” Abadir says. “And above all, I thank the good Lord for the mercy and support he showed me.”     
WATANI International
7 August 2013                             
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