Guest blog by Clarion Project’s Legal Analyst Jennifer Breedon
Christians have lost another fellow believer in Egypt. Ishak Ibrahim Fayez Younan, 37, had his throat slit in his Cairo home and was discovered by his brother, marking the fifth murder in only two weeks.. Younan is one of many Christians who have had throats slit and been murdered for their faith.
Despite being in his home, nothing was taken indicating there was no motivation to rob Younan. We can assume his death, which follows a similar pattern of other recent murders in Egypt, was the result of his identification as a Christian in Egypt.
Younan had been working at a local factory that distributes soft drinks to grocery stores to support his wife and two children, ages 10 and 12, who now have no father.
Many citizens of Egypt are calling on President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to do more for Christians in Egypt, but the underlying and deep-seated Islamist ideology and resentment against Christians seems to go beyond his capabilities as head of state.
Coptic Christians make up 10% Egypt’s population and suffer grave persecution, ranging from denial of jobs, burning of their churches and targets for assassination as in the case of Younan. In December 2016, a large number of churches were bombed and, according to CNN, more than two dozen people were killed with several more injured.
Likewise, many Christian soldiers in the Egyptian Army are facing the same fate because of their faith. Several Coptic soldiers have been the victims of mysterious deaths. In June of 2015, Bahaa Gamal Mikhail Silvanus, 23, was found dead in his office at the post where he was stationed. Silvanus suffered two gunshot wounds and critical blunt force trauma to his head.
Yet, military officials ruled that the cause of death was suicide. Only a few short months later, Baha Saeed Karam, 22, was found dead from four fatal gunshot wounds at his headquarters. Sources from both Silvanus and Karam’s friends and family say that they had been hassled several times by fellow soldiers to convert to Islam. Karam had received death threats from Islamic soldiers shortly prior to his death.
Clarion sources have noted that the military officially lists all mysterious deaths of Christians in the military as “suicides.” This shows the vast Islamist infiltration throughout Egypt despite President Sisi’s promise to do more for the Christians.
President Sisi fights many fronts and has a more difficult uphill battle than nearly any world leader in modern history. Here are some of the hurdles he faces in a country where Christian persecution has historically been among the worst:
1. Since the Muslim Brotherhood was criminalized, the Salafists in Egypt aligned themselves with Sisi to keep safe. Yet, their ideological beliefs that allow for violence against Christians remain rampant.
2. Any sudden movement by Sisi to denounce all Islamist oppressive ideology could result in riots and a loss of his popular support, especially considering the presence in Egypt of Al Azhar University, the seat of the world’s leading Islamic thinkers and teachers.
Such broad denouncing could also prove more deadly for Egypt’s Christians who may be viewed as the ones to blame for Sisi’s crackdown on Islamists. No leader has ever spoken up for Christians the way President Sisi has.
Sisi has actually done a great deal for Christians, and the Christian community recognizes that and appreciates it.
He has denounced all attacks on Christian churches and has continued to rebuild the destroyed churches in upper Egypt that Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers destroyed in 2013.
3. Brotherhood sympathizers will always hate Sisi, denounce his rule and try to prohibit him from receiving international support. We must never forget that Cairo is the birthplace of Islamist ideology and their genius suppression tactics. These tactics are in full force against the pro-Christian and pro-Israel President Sisi.