By Mark Ellis —
A Coptic Christian mother in Egypt was horrified to watch her husband and son killed in front of her in their home. Then she watched the murderer calmly check their names from a hit-list in his pocket.
At about 10:30pm on February 21st, Nabila Fawzi Hanna, 65, was drifting off to sleep when she was startled by a loud knock at the front door.
Her son Medhat opened the door and two masked men forced their way into the entry area. “Without asking any questions, one of them shot my son in the head, instantly killing him,” Nabila reported to World Watch Monitor (WWM).
“When I heard the gunshots I rushed out of my room barefoot and found him lying on the ground, bleeding from his forehead and nose. I screamed, asking them why they shot him.”
They told her to shut up. She noticed two other masked men waiting in a gray car nearby.
Then the murderers went looking for her husband, Saad. “I heard him plead, ‘I’m a sick old man,’ but they didn’t respond. They shot him twice in the head.”
Then the men asked Nabila if she is a Christian.
“I am,” she replied.
“How are you related to the two men?” one asked.
“They are my son and husband,” she told them.
They asked for their names and she answered. “One of them was holding a list of many names and when I gave their names, he looked at the list and ticked them off with a pen.”
The two men asked Nabila if she had any gold jewelry in the house. When she said no, they forcefully pulled her gold wedding ring from her finger.
“They looted the house and put the stolen things in their car before setting the house on fire,” she said. “They took about 40 minutes. We’re the only Christian family on the street. I was alone – none of the neighbors helped me; they heard the gunshots but were afraid to come out. I didn’t know what to do. I went back inside and saw the bodies of my son and husband. It was horrific.”
This incident followed a terrifying message from an Egyptian ISIS affiliate pledging to “eliminate” all of Egypt’s Christians and to “liberate Cairo.” The video included a final statement from a suicide bomber who killed 28 at a church in Cairo on December 11th – mostly women and children.
The day after Nabila’s husband and son died, a neighbor reported men knocking on the door of her daughter and son-in-law’s home – but they weren’t there. They fled for their lives an hour earlier.
The ISIS fighters then went to Kamel Raouf Kamel Youssef’s house, nearby. They broke in and shot the 40-year-old in front of his wife and children as he tried to escape to the roof, according to WWM.
The killings all took place in the city of El-Arish, located in northeastern Egypt, in the Sinai Governorate. ISIS claimed responsibility for a total of seven believers killed there recently.
After the murders, Nabila and her daughter, Abeer, decided to leave their home and relocate, joining many other Coptic Christians leaving North Sinai.
Most are heading for Ismailia and Suez, about 125 miles away. Roughly 70 per cent of the 160 Coptic Christian families living in El-Arish have fled, according to WWM.
Nabila and her family rescued the bodies of her son and husband from the fire. They carried their coffins in a convoy of vehicles carrying 84 other Christian families fleeing to Ismailia.
The funeral of Saad and Medhat was held on 23 Feb at the Church of the Archangel Mikhail
The head of the Coptic Church in the UK, Bishop Angaelos, said in a statement: “These horrific attacks have gone largely unnoticed by the international community, but Copts continue to suffer tragic violations daily. The attacks against them are anti-Christian and religiously-motivated, demonstrated in many cases by the circulation of flyers within villages urging Christians to ‘leave or die’. Similar events have tragically occurred far too often over the past years, and there is unfortunately little deterrent to prevent them from re-occurring.”
Orthodox Coptic Christians make up about 10 per cent of Egypt’s 90 million people and are the Middle East’s largest Christian community, according to WWM.
To learn more about World Watch Monitor’s work in Egypt go here