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Murder of Coptic priest latest attack on Egypt’s Christian minority

Father Samaan, the Coptic Orthodox priest who was stabbed to death in Cairo, Egypt [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

A priest was killed in a knife attack in a Cairo district yesterday, Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church confirmed.

The attack took place yesterday in one of Cairo’s poor districts and the priest later died in hospital after he was struck in the head by a cleaver, in the latest assault on members of the country’s Christian minority.

The assailant reportedly fled the scene after the attack but was later arrested. However the motive behind the attack is still unknown to authorities.

Egypt’s Christians account for about 10 per cent of the country’s 94 million population but attacks against the minority have surged in recent months and a series of suicide bombings claimed by Daesh have claimed 100 since December last year.

Read more: Egypt’s Coptic Christians face persecution at home and apathy abroad

The deadliest attack against Coptic Christians happened earlier this year when Daesh gunmen killed at least 26 Coptic Christians and wounded 25 others as they were driving to a monastery in the Minya province, south of the capital Cairo.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights has recorded 77 sectarian attacks on Coptic Christians in the Minya province alone between 2011 and 2016, as well as many more incidents of vandalism at churches and schools.

The minority group has suffered the worst since President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi came to power through a military coup in 2013 and little protection has been afforded to them despite promises made.

Bombings at churches in Alexandria on Palm Sunday in April this year caused Al-Sisi to declare a new state of emergency, the second so far under his presidency. Yesterday Cairo extended the state of emergency for another three months which will looks likely to be approved by parliament in the following few days.   

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