Coptic Solidarity Condemns Ruthless Attack on Coptic Pilgrims

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Coptic Solidarity condemns the egregious attack on Coptic Pilgrims traveling to St. Samuel the Confessor Monastery on Friday, November 2, 2018, which resulted in at least 7 deaths and a dozen wounded.

Coptic Christian pilgrims traveling to a desert monastery were ambushed on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018. At least 7 were killed and a dozen wounded. (Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church via AP) (Associated Press)

Coptic Solidarity condemns the egregious attack on Coptic Pilgrims traveling to St. Samuel the Confessor Monastery on Friday, November 2, 2018. Despite an attack which took the lives of 29 pilgrims near the same location in 2017, the Egyptian government continually fails to protect its Coptic citizens.

According to early reports, unidentified gunmen shot at two buses carrying pilgrims from Sohag to the monastery. A third bus was able to drive away during the attack. The bishop of Minya, as well as several other sources, stated that seven individuals were killed and 14 injured, including several in critical condition. Observers expect the death toll to rise as this story develops.

After the massacre, the attackers reportedly continued to open fire on the families and civilian rescuers who rushed to the site, amid total absence of any serious countermeasures by the police and security forces. Hours after the attack, when the world knew about it through various media outlets, local state-owned media were still mostly silent providing only scant information.

On May 26, 2017, on the same dessert route near the same location, armed gunmen attacked a Coptic convoy transporting pilgrims to the St. Samuel Monastery resulting in the deaths of 29 men, women, and children. As Coptic Solidarity reported, “President El-Sisi quickly held “external terrorists” responsible for the attack and conducted airstrikes on camps inside Libya, despite lack of evidence that these groups or targets are the actual culprits. Some evidence strongly suggests that the attackers are native Egyptians as they spoke a local Egyptian dialect and were familiar with a relatively unknown desert route to the monastery.”

For several months, the police banned all visits to the monastery. The road was finally reopened, but clearly no measures were taken to safeguard it.

Coptic Solidarity reiterates the message published after the May 2017 attack, that the Egyptian government has failed to protect its Coptic minority. Coptic Solidarity strongly maintains that this violence is not perpetrated by foreign terrorists as the Egyptian government would like the world to believe, but is homegrown, one created by a culture of hate and impunity within Egypt.

Consequently, Coptic Solidarity holds the Egyptian government fully responsible and calls for a transparent investigation of these attacks, and to institute serious measures to prevent future attacks. The minimum response expected from president El-Sisi is to dismiss the head of State Security and the governor of Minya, as a clear sign of holding officials accountable. Furthermore, given the government’s continued failure to protect the Copts, Coptic Solidarity vigorously calls for an independent inquiry by the UN to evaluate the Copts’ situation and to recommend necessary measures to alleviate their increasingly perilous situation and to avoid repetition of the tragic situation of Christians in Iraq and Syria.

Coptic Solidarity is an organization seeking to help minorities, particularly the Copts, of Egypt and we support those in Egypt working for democracy, freedom, and the protection of the fundamental rights of all Egyptian citizens. It advocates in cooperation with the affiliated organizations in Canada and in Europe (Solidarité Copte). For more information, contact Lindsay Griffin at 801-512-1713 or coptadvocacy@copticsolidarity.org

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Lindsay Griffin
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