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Coptic Solidarity Condemns Barbaric Killing of Coptic Pilgrims En Route to St. Samuel Monastery

Contact: Lindsay Griffin, Coptic Solidarity, 801-512-1713, coptadvocacy@copticsolidarity.org

WASHINGTON, May 30, 2017 /Christian Newswire/ -- Coptic Solidarity condemns the barbaric murder of Coptic Christians journeying to the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor in Egypt's western desert near Minya, on May 26, 2017. This bloody episode is the latest in a series of horrendous attacks just in the past few months.

Ten armed gunmen attacked a three-vehicle convoy traveling in to the monastery. Twenty-nine individuals, including ten children joined a rapidly increasing number of modern Coptic martyrs. According to survivors, victims were shot dead after being requested to recite the Islamic confession of faith "shahada" and amid cries of "Allah Akbar." Coptic Solidarity extends its deepest sympathies to the victims' families and pledges to continue its advocacy efforts to achieve religious freedom and equality for Copts in Egypt.

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 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.

While Mr. El-Sisi rightly asked for coherent international efforts to combat Islamic terrorism, he conveniently chooses to ignore the fact that Egypt under his leadership is increasingly becoming an "ecosystem" conducive to jihadist violence. He allows Salafists and other Islamists to dominate the public sphere, spreading hate speech in state-owned media and educational curricula. Publicly labeling Christians as infidels or 'kufar' amounts to a license to persecute and kill them.

Copts have suffered tremendously this past year and the pace of attacks by Islamists has been rising, with three major attacks on churches, attacks and forced evacuations of Coptic families from northern Sinai, in addition to individual murders during the second half of 2016.

Once again, 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.

Coptic Solidarity calls on the Egyptian government to conduct a transparent investigation of these attacks and to institute measures to prevent such attacks. Also, given the government's continued failure to protect the Copts, Coptic Solidarity strongly calls for an independent inquiry by the UN to evaluate the Copts' situation and to recommend necessary measures to alleviate their dire 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