Copts flee targeted IS terror campaign in Sinai

Copts flee targeted IS terror campaign in Sinai
IS in the Sinai continue to target Coptic Christians as hundreds flee the peninsula.
2 min read
26 February, 2017
Coptic Christians arrive at a Church in Ismailiya, seeking refuge [Getty]
Egyptian Coptic Christians fled the Sinai peninsula for a second day in a row on Saturday, following a string of extremist attacks.

A Coptic church official said more families arrived in the Suez canal city of Ismailiya, one day after about 250 Copts sought shelter in just one church there.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has instructed his government to help shelter the displaced people.

Three Christians have been killed this week in the city of El-Arish in the northern Sinai, where Islamic State group-linked militants are waging an insurgency.

Attacks on Christians in the Sinai have proliferated since IS released a video calling for violence against the minority on Sunday 19 February.

The video included an anti-Christian speech recorded last year by Abu Abdullah al-Masri, who later detonated an explosive vest in a Coptic church in Cairo on December 11, killing 29 people.

On Saturday, President Sisi emphasised at a meeting with ministers "the importance of confronting all efforts to disturb security and stability in Egypt", according to a government statement.

Copts, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 90 million population, say they are disenfranchised and are poorly treated in both the country's education system and state institutions.

Insurgents in the Sinai accuse Copts of supporting the military overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, which ushered in a deadly crackdown on his supporters.

Although the Coptic church has traditionally supported military rule in Egypt, state assurances of protection have occasionally not been backed by actions.

Mobs attacked dozens of churches and Christian properties in August 2013, especially in southern Egypt, after state police killed hundreds of pro-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators in Cairo. At the time the police were heavily criticised for failing to provide the usual security for the churches, at a particularly tense time, and were accused of stoking tensions for political expedience.

It is not uncommon for public TV and radio personalities in Egypt to propagate unsubstantiated claims against the Coptic community with impunity, frequently accusing them of involvement in outrageous conspiracies.