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An Orthodox Priest Murdered by Extremist in Egypt

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Father Samaan Shahata Rizkallah aged 50 years, was chased and stabbed repeatedly in his head, neck and abdomen by a man having a chopper. That rash extremist imprinted a cross on his forehead. An hour later an ambulance arrived at the scene and transported Father Samaan to a hospital, where he died. Father Beymen Moftah of El-Malak Church in Matay was with Father Samaan. He was attacked too but is survived with his injuries.

An Orthodox Priest Murdered by Extremist in Egypt

A suspected murderer is in custody of the police. The Bishop Astafanous of Fashn, Biba and Samasta described that the alleged killer is Ahmed-El Sonbaty. He is an extremist with a criminal record.

Father Samaan served at St. Julius’ church in Ezbet Girgis, al-Fashn, Beni Suef governorate, a village. That church is a home for approximately 3,000 inhabitants while 2,000 of them are Christians.

In 2009, Father Samaan applied for a permit to construct a new church on land owned by Christians. For the construction of the church they had to demolish their old homes which prompted protests from the Muslim community. Eventually, the church was built and in September 2015. Then police arrested Father Samaan briefly and interrogated for much needed renovations on the church.

A series of attacks was claimed by the Islamic State Daesh on Christian community of Egypt in recent months, with over 100 deaths since December 2016. On 5 October, police reported about a defused IED (Improvised explosive device) which was found in a car close to Al-Masara Church in Rod El-Farag, Cairo.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “We extend our deepest condolences to the family of Father Samaan, to his community and to his church. While we recognize the efforts of the Egyptian government to combat extremism, we encourage it to consider longer-term security arrangements to guarantee the safety of all civilians, and especially religious minorities, who are particularly vulnerable to extremists’ attacks….’’

In April 2017, Suicidal attacks bombers hit two churches in the coastal city of Alexandria and the Nile Delta city of Tanta during services for Palm Sunday. They killed 43 people and many people were wounded. The May 2017, a mob of masked militants killed 28 people when they fired on a bus which was packed with Coptic Christians. The horde included children was heading to the remote monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor near the southern town Maghagha.

In the recent months, Egypt has become one of the worst places for Christian persecution. A series of attacks targeted Christians and forced them to close church. Such events have caused Egypt’s Christian community to call on for help to the authorities.