A 62-year-old Coptic Christian has been murdered by Islamic State terrorists in Northern Sinai, Egypt after being abducted in November.
Nabil Habashi Salama’s abductors initially demanded a ransom equivalent to £230,000. Mr Salama’s family owns several jewellery and mobile phone businesses and built the town’s only church, known as the Saint Mary & Anba Karas & St Abanob Church.
A video depicting Mr Salama’s execution has been circulating on Islamic State media warning the Christian community they will be targeted due to their support of the Egyptian army and their loyalty to the Egyptian state.
Mr Salama’s son Peter told the Egyptian newspaper, Watani: “My father was tortured by the terrorist group because his teeth appeared broken. We were forced to close our businesses and leave our homes to another city and we continue to receive threats.”
CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: “We extend our deepest condolences to Mr Salama’s family and the Coptic community in Egypt. Whilst President Sisi has been personally committed to promoting peaceful co-existence between Christians and Muslims in Egypt, and his government has taken some encouraging steps towards promoting this, the abductions of Mr Georgy and Mr Gerges highlight that far more must be done to uproot sectarianism, protect vulnerable communities, promote social cohesion and uphold fundamental human rights for all Egyptians.”
Earlier this month, the Egyptian government legalised 82 churches and church buildings, bringing the total number of churches legalised since the Church Construction Law was approved to 1882.
Under this law, the power to approve the building and renovation of churches was extended to provincial governors. However, while this made the process less complicated, the legislation remains discriminatory, as similar requirements do not apply to Sunni Muslim places of worship. Other religious groups, such as the Ahmadi and Baha’i communities, are not covered by the law.
Egypt ranks 12th in the Open Doors list of countries where Christians face most persecution.