International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on September 25, 2019, an Egyptian Christian man, Maged Fathi, passed away following a beating by at least six Muslims. Maged was taken to the hospital in Assiut Governorate where he died the next day.
His neighbor, who witnessed the incident, told ICC:
“Maged’s son was carrying dead chickens, and one fell beside the (Muslim) house. The Muslim man hit the boy on his face with the dead chicken. Maged heard his son crying loudly and got out of the house quickly. He tried to defend his son, but the killer hit Maged on his head with a cudgel, and injured him with a knife too.”
Al-Karma TV News reported that the main attacker, Ebrahim Abo Zaid, recently returned from Libya where he had cultivated a jihadist ideology. Some local Christians had heard him urging other Muslims that they “have to kill the Christians.”
The other attackers were Ebrahim’s son, Mohammed; Khaled Abdel Twab; as well as Khalf Abdel Nazir and his two sons, Abdel and Mohammed. As they were beating Maged, Christians began to gather in the street. The group of attackers then proceeded to attack the Christian bystanders with cudgels and chains, injuring five. Vehicles belonging to the Christians were also damaged. The village priest shared:
“I don’t know exactly what happened. (But) I didn’t expect that, because they were so close, as Maged and his Muslim neighbor work in the same field. They work in the chicken and fish trade. Now, Maged left his sons as orphans.”
Maged leaves behind three sons and two daughters. The family has asked the police to hold the attackers accountable.
“Now, the killer is caught by the police, and the Christian family did not relinquish the case,” said their neighbor. “Sectarian incidents are always away from our village. I think this is the first incident of its kind here.”
The situation in the village remains tense, and those living nearby are having trouble communicating with their Christian friends and relatives who live there. One individual said:
“The crisis aggravated, and the result was killing Maged… My friend lives there, but he didn’t tell me more than that because he is afraid. The situation in the village is very hard and everything is strict. Even he did not want to tell me more than these few words.”
Attacks against Christians are commonplace in Egypt, which is an officially Islamic country. Christians are viewed as second-class citizens, and thus when attacks against them occur, they are often left without opportunities for judicial recourse. Often, the government fails to hold the perpetrators of attacks accountable.
Egypt ranks as a Tier 2 Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said:
“The murder of Maged Fathi should have never happened. The police had been aware of his neighbor’s radicalization in Libya. For so long, Egypt’s Christians have lived without justice and protection from these kinds of hate crimes. Christians deserve the opportunity to live in Egypt without fear of violence and harassment. We urge the authorities to hold the attackers accountable for their crimes.”