A Coptic Orthodox priest was slaughtered in the street in the Egyptian capital last month, horrifying the Christian community in the country. This week the priest’s killer, 19-year-old Ahmad Saeed Ibrahim al-Sonbati, was sentenced to death for the horrific attack, which also left another priest injured, the Daily Express informs.
Open Doors, a Christian persecution watchdog, said priest Samaan Shehata was “attacked with a cleaver” when he was visiting Cairo for a conference. According to the group, quoting local press, said the killer had been looking for “any priest” to kill when he stumbled across the unfortunate Shehata.
The attacker noted Shehata’s attire and chose him as a target, blocking his car before hacking him to death. “Al-Sonbati had decided to kill any Coptic priest, purchased a dagger and lay in wait for one to pass by in a street leading to the local church. He reportedly blocked Shehata’s vehicle when it passed by and forced him to get out.” the watchdog Open Doors said in a statement.
The death sentence verdict has been forwarded to the Grand Mufti, Egypt’s highest judicial official, who must give his approval, the Express notes.
“Another day in Egypt with another Coptic Christian murdered. Why should a priest not be able to walk safely down a street?” Coptic Bishop Angaelos of the United Kingdom said, adding that the event followed a string of other violent attacks on Coptics in Egypt over the past months.
“Coptic Christians who have endured injustice, persecution, and loss of life for centuries without retaliation, repeatedly forgiving unconditionally, deserve to live with respect and dignity in their indigenous homeland.” Bishop Angaelos stressed.
Coptic Christians are one of the most persecuted denominations in the world, and 2017 has been a bloody year for Coptics in Egypt. In February Islamic State vowed to “wipe them out”, as they killed eight in a series of attacks, sharing the videos online and forcing hundreds of Coptics to flee their homes.
In April, twin bombings of Coptic churches on Palm Sunday left 49 dead, before a further 28 were killed in a bus attack the following month. This autumn a series of attacks forced Coptic churches to close across Egypt, the Express notes.