International Christian Concern which is a non government institution told that on January 13 evening three gunmen fired a Coptic Christian identified as Bassem Attala in his head. Last year about 100 Christian families fled Al-Arish when 7 Christian Copts were killed by Islamic State militants. In August 2017, Bassem had to return to El- Arish with his family since he could not find any mean for earning.
A priest of Mar Girgis Coptic Church in El- Arish said that Bassem worked in mobile maintenance shop with his brother. On Saturday at 9 p.m. Bassem was on his way to home after finishing his job with his brother and a Muslim friend. Suddenly three gunmen stopped them and asked Bassem at gunpoint to show his wrists. Then they saw a tattoo of Cross on Bassem’s wrist and asked him if he was Christian. Bassem admitted his Christian faith and IS militant shot him in his head at the spot. Later the armed men asked Bassem’s companions to show their writ too. When they found no tattoo they left them alive.
As a symbol of Christianity many Coptic Christians in Egypt have tattoos of cross on their wrists. The Egyptian Christians dress in different way and live in their own community.
After the murder of Bassem, all Coptic Christians are in affright condition. The IS terrorists want all the Christians who fled Al-Arish to return back and Bassem’s killing is a horrifying message for all those Christians who were planning to move back to Al-Arish, added the priest.
Last year in first two months, many Christians became victims of targeted killing and compelled them to leave this area. Since then these Coptic Christians are running here and there for their family lives.
In May, Nabeel Saber Fawzi was gunned down too by IS militants. He returned Al-Arish after his displacement because he did not find any employment anywhere to fulfill his basic needs.
ICC’s Regional Manager Claire Evans said that IS compelled Christians to leave the area and now their target killing is a threatening message that ‘Christians are not welcomed in Egypt’. The authorities need to provide secure life to Christians and stop militants from eradication of Christianity in Egypt, he added.