Egyptian Christians and Power Politics

The murder of twenty Coptic Christians by Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) militants in Libya and the release of a video of their execution on February 14 sent shockwaves through Egyptian communities. The Egyptian government’s response was swift. Fighter jets bombed militant bases in Libya and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi renamed the town from which the victims hailed to “Town of the Martyrs.” Despite the state’s compensation to the families of the victims, some relatives and Christian community leaders felt that the attention to the matter was purely political.

Ishak Ibrahim, a journalist and researcher focusing on religious minorities, explored the mixed feelings on display, chronicling the abductions of the Christians in Libya, the response from the Egyptian government, and the reactions from the Christian community in his latest article “Egypt’s Government Assuages Minya Families after Weeks of Silence.” He notes how high level politicians flocked to the village to offer their condolences, but that the incident did not mark the first time the community had to grapple with the kidnap and murder of Coptic Christians. Other villages had suffered the same fate but received little to no recognition or support from the Egyptian government. Nonetheless, some family members took pride in their lost relatives’ strength of will in the face of death and their attainment of martyrdom.

As the struggle in Libya intensifies, the Egyptian government’s involvement may increase the pressure on those Egyptians in Libya struggling to make a living in the face of limited opportunity back home. Read the full article on EgyptSource.