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World News

Founder of church kidnapped by gunmen in Egypt as he walked to the shop

by Will Maule

A 61-year-old Egyptian man has been kidnapped by a group of gunmen. Coptic Christian Nabil Habshy Salama was abducted in Egypt’s North Sinai city of Bir al-Abd on 8th November, according to his son. 

Nabil had left his home to buy an item from a shop no more than 50 metres from his house.

His son told Copts United of the huge influence his father had on the local area and lamented the fact that security forces did nothing to stop the kidnapping: 

"My father built the only church we have here. It is named Mary, Anba Karas, and Saint Abnoub Church. Our relations with others are good.

He added: “How dare unmasked people kidnap my father and steal a car in the full view of all passers. No security officers or police defended my father! Bir al-Abd is a city full of security bodies because it is a city which usually faces terrorism attacks. How could armed people enter the city and commit a crime?”

The son, Peter, has appealed to President Sisi to intervene and help locate his father. 

The abduction took place just two months after another Christian was kidnapped in al-Abtal village, on the east side of the Suez Canal - he remains missing at this time and there is no further information on his condition. 

As International Christian Concern reports, the latest kidnapping occurred just days after Egypt announced that it will be developing the city of Saint Catherine in Sinai for the purpose of promoting faith tourism, despite high levels of religious persecution in Sinai, particularly towards Christians, causing vast swathes to leave the region. Those who remain in Sinai are at a high risk of kidnappings and assassinations by extremists, and the government has been criticised for not doing enough to bring aid and security to the Christian community. 

On the latest kidnapping, Claire Evans, International Christian Concern's regional manager for the Middle East, said: “We are concerned about the welfare of Nabil Habshy Salama, who has now been missing for two days. It is critical that an investigation is launched during the early days following a reported kidnapping case, as each hour that passes decreases the likelihood of a positive outcome.

"Consequently, we ask that Egypt takes this report seriously. We pray for the safe return of Nabil, as well as protection and comfort for his family during this difficult time.”

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