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Stabbing of three Christians declared ‘a normal quarrel’ by Egyptian police

5 December 2019

Please pray for three Egyptian Christians who are fighting for their lives after being stabbed. Houda and her two sons, Shenouda and Ishaq, were seriously wounded in an attack outside their home in Al-Nasriyah, Minya, Upper Egypt. Even worse, the local police have declared that the attack was ‘just a normal quarrel’. The incident is part of a trend faced by our family in Egypt: authorities turning a blind eye to serious faith-based persecution. 

Ishaq, injured

Ishaq (16) recovering from the attack

Houda was sitting on her doorstep with her two sons when a Muslim neighbour passed by. He ordered them to move into the house, ‘because Christians should not be out on the street’.

“After they responded that they were not going to honour his order, he got angry,” a relative told Open Doors. “He ranted that he would 'kill these dog infidels'. He then rushed home, came back with a knife and started hitting and stabbing them.”

Shenouda was stabbed in the belly and needed a partial removal of his intestines, while his brother Ishaq required stitches on six different areas of his body. Houda was treated for serious head wounds.

Despite the deliberate attack, which was witnessed by a neighbour who gave their testimony, the police refused to classify it as an attempted murder.

“My brothers balanced between life and death in intensive care for three days,” said the older brother of Ishaq and Shenouda. “How can this be ‘a normal quarrel’? It's an attempted murder!”

Previous attack

This wasn’t the first time the assailant had done something like this. He had previously attacked a Christian teacher with a cleaver, and was never punished because the teacher was pressured into dropping charges and taking part in a ‘reconciliation session’. This is a meeting between a village’s Muslim and Christian leaders that aims to settle conflicts informally, and thus often lets perpetrators of violence against Christians go free without punishment.

While local Muslim elders have been pressuring the family to take a similar route, they are refusing to drop the charges or let a reconciliation session take the place of formal legal proceedings. “Impunity of such acts will only encourage further violence,” said a family member.

“This is sadly all too common for Egypt’s Christians,” says an Open Doors spokesperson. “Serious incidents are downplayed by both police and communities. Forgiveness and reconciliation are important, but not at the cost of justice.”

Egypt is currently number 16 on the World Watch List, and Christians are often face constant discrimination in areas such as justice, education and basic social services, as well as social exclusion. In rural and impoverished areas, in particular, more radical forms of Islam are growing in prominence. The government is making efforts to reverse this trend but with little success so far.

Open Doors supports the church in Egypt through local partners, with literacy training, education, advocacy support, medical care and youth, family and women’s ministry.

Please pray

  • For justice for Houda, Shenouda and Ishaq and that they would all recover full health after this appalling attack
  • For the police in Egypt to act justly, regardless of citizens’ faith
  • For Open Doors partners in Egypt, that they may support and encourage many believers in the country.
     

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