Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Egypt's Christians in fear after attack kills 4

CAIRO — The elderly, silver-haired Christian could hardly speak Monday, sitting stunned in a church where the evening before, suspected Islamic militants on a motorcycle sprayed his family's wedding party with automatic weapons fire, killing his son, his wife's sister and two granddaughters age 8 and 12.

"It's God's will. They are always beating us down. Every other day now, they do this," 75-year-old Fahmy Azer Abboud said as he waited for their funeral to start.

The victims were waiting to enter the Church of the Virgin Mary in Cairo's Warraq district for the wedding of another of Abboud's granddaughters when the gunmen struck about 9 p.m. Sunday. The wounded included seven relatives, with his other son, Nabil, among them, Abboud said.

The shooting deepened panic among Egypt's minority Coptic Christians, already the target of centuries of discrimination by the Muslim majority. It also raised fears that an insurgency by Islamic extremists in the strategic Sinai Peninsula and an increase in attacks in rural areas may be shifting to the capital, a city of 18 million people already beset by crime and poverty.

The violence by Islamic radicals has risen since the military deposed President Mohammed Morsi in July and cracked down on his Muslim Brotherhood and its allies. The attacks have targeted mainly security forces and Christians, whom the Islamists blame because of their strong support of Morsi's ouster. In Sinai, suspected jihadist fighters have stepped up violence against soldiers and police since the coup.

Sunday's shooting also recalled an Islamic militant insurgency in the 1980s and 1990s, when extremists waged a campaign against police, Christians and foreign tourists, trying to topple the government of now-ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Many fear a revival of that wave of violence.

High-profile attacks blamed on militants have already begun to creep into Cairo. In September, the interior minister, who heads the police, survived an assassination attempt by a suicide car bombing. This month, militants fired rocket-propelled grenades on the nation's largest satellite ground station, also in the capital.

Witnesses said a car blocked traffic outside the Coptic church minutes before the shooting Sunday, allowing the gunmen on the motorcycle the space they needed and giving them a relatively easy getaway.

The funeral of the four victims was attended by several thousand Christians. Their grief was mixed with anger and disbelief.

"With our blood and souls, we will redeem the cross," they chanted as the four coffins were about to be brought into the church.

Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi pledged the attack would "not succeed in sowing divisions between the nation's Muslims and Christians," and he promised that the culprits would be brought to justice. Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb, top Muslim cleric at Al-Azhar, the world's primary seat of Sunni Islamic learning, called the shooting "a criminal act that runs contrary to religion and morals."

Egypt's Christians in fear after attack kills 4 10/21/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 12:16am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pasco considers new tax districts for parks, libraries, public safety

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Faced with growing costs amid an expected voter-endorsed tax cut, Pasco County is considering changing the way it pays for parks, libraries and public safety.

    
Pasco County is considering a new taxing district to finance an expansion and ongoing operations of the county's Department of Parks,Recreaton and Natural Resources. Shown is the Dick's Tournament of Champions at the the  Wesley Chapel District Park, the last district park developed by the county. It opened in 2007.
  2. Ruskin man sought in fatal stabbing of roommate

    Crime

    RUSKIN — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has issued an arrest warrant for the suspect who fatally stabbed his roommate in a Ruskin home on Monday afternoon.

    Angel Calix, shown during a June 2016 arrest, is wanted in the fatal stabbing of a Ruskin man on Oct. 23, 2017. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Romano: Why flood insurance might not be enough to save your home

    Local Government

    Irma is gone, and Maria never came.

    And yet this is as good a time as any to worry.

  4. Tampa's streetcar system looks to expand north through downtown

    Transportation

    TAMPA — The TECO Line Streetcar system that runs from Ybor City to the Channel District could be extended north through downtown all the way to Tampa Heights, according to the latest update of a $1.7 million study aimed at expanding the streetcar system.

    Riders take in the last few stops of the streetcar route in Ybor City during the tenth anniversary celebration of the TECO line streetcar system in Tampa in 2012. Now officials are looking for ways to expand the service north through downtown to Tampa Heights. [EVE EDELHEIT  |  Times]
  5. Interview: Steve Martin, Martin Short bringing 'best version' of their show back to St. Petersburg

    Stage

    Hot celebrity-spotting tip: Stop by the Salvador Dalí Museum on Jan. 19. You might catch a glimpse of Steve Martin.

    Steve Martin, left, and Martin Short will bring “An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life” to the Mahaffey Theater on Jan. 19.