A Coptic Orthodox priest has been stabbed to death in Cairo, Egypt. The head of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK has decried what he said was the injustice surrounding the crime.
Father Samaan from Beni Suef in Upper Egypt was attacked and stabbed to death yesterday while walking down a street in Cairo. He had been in the area to collect humanitarian aid for his parishioners.
‘Another day in Egypt with another Coptic Christian murdered’, said His Grace Bishop Angaelos, the head of the UK Coptic Orthodox Church, in a statement yesterday detailing the attack.
‘Fr Samaan was paying a pastoral visit to a family in Cairo and returned to the church where he was earlier to collect his mobile phone. On the way, he was attacked by a knife-wielding assailant who chased him, stabbed him repeatedly, and then brutally killed him.’
Angaelos added: ‘This incident makes us once again ask so many questions. Why should a priest not be able to walk safely down a street, especially a suburban street in Cairo? Why should he be chased by a man brandishing a deadly weapon and have no one run to his aid; in actual fact, everyone was running away. Why, when he lay drenched in his own blood did the ambulance service not arrive for over an hour, and then not treat him?
‘Why, when the police finally arrived, and he lay dead, was a crime scene not secured and forensic evidence not collected to enable a robust and serious investigation? Why is his assailant immediately deemed mentally incapable without professional diagnosis, and why, if he is incapable, and a known violent criminal, is he left in the community with weapons within his reach?’
The attack comes after a year of successive terrorist attacks on Egypt’s Coptic Christian community, with church bombings, shootings and stabbings killing more than 100 since December 2016. ISIS, which has claimed most of the attacks as its own work, has publicly incited violence against Copts, who represent about 10 per cent of the majority Muslim country.
Bishop Angaelos said: ‘The immense pain of this incident and all that have preceded it…leads us to hold more strongly onto the words of our Lord God in Exodus 3:7: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry…for I know their sorrows.” Coptic Christians who have endured injustice, persecution, and loss of life for centuries without retaliation, repeatedly forgiving unconditionally, deserve to live with respect and dignity in their indigenous homeland.’
He added: ‘I am sure that I am not alone in my anger, but that it is shared by every law-abiding person of any belief and indeed of none, who has witnessed this vicious and inhumane attack. In the midst of this anger and this sadness however I continue to pray. I pray repose for Father Samaan, I pray for his family, I pray for his community. I pray for the wider Egyptian Christian community that feels more and more vulnerable and targeted daily against a backdrop of negligence and injustice. I pray for the wider Egyptian society, that becomes more and more discredited and compromised as these incidents continue to happen.
‘This anger is not void of forgiveness, but cries out for accountability and justice.’