A criminal court in Alexandria, Egypt, sentenced a man to death on Wednesday after finding him guilty of murdering a Coptic Christian priest in the Mediterranean port city in April, Africanews reported on Thursday.
The unidentified man stabbed Coptic Christian Priest Arsanios Wadid, 56, to death while Wadid accompanied young people from his parish along the Sidi Bishr district of the Alexandria Corniche, a seaside promenade, on April 7. Passersby immobilized the killer shortly after witnessing his stabbing of Wadid and handed him over to local police.
Wadid’s official title was the “Priest of the Church of the Virgin Mary and Mar Boulos.” He presided over his parish in the Karmouz neighborhood of Alexandria’s Meharam Bek district, according to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.
“The Alexandria Criminal Court submitted to the Mufti of the Republic the name of the convicted man who was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter [of Wadid] after a psychological expert declared him ‘responsible for his acts’, according to the legal procedure,” Africanews relayed on May 19.
A “mufti” is an Islamic jurisconsult used by Muslim-majority Egypt as part of its legal system, which is based on Islamic law, or sharia. Egypt’s constitution states that “Islam is the religion of the state … and the principles of Islamic sharia are the main sources of legislation.”
The “Mufti of the Republic” referred to by Africanews on Thursday will reportedly issue his judgment of the death sentence assigned to Wadid’s murderer “at a hearing on 11 June, but it is usually a formality in Egypt, the third most executed [sic] country in the world according to Amnesty International.”
The Alexandria Criminal Court’s decision to hold the unidentified convicted murderer accountable for his killing of a Coptic Christian priest last month seems notable in Egypt, where members of the minority Coptic Christian community are often discriminated against by the officially Islamic state.
The term “Copt” is used to refer to either a member of Egypt’s “indigenous Christian ethno-religious community” or an adherent of the Coptic Orthodox Church, which is Egypt’s largest Christian body, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Copts constitute between 10 and 15 percent of Egypt’s population of 103 million, and represent the largest Christian community in the Middle East.
“They [Copts] feel they have been left out of many positions [in Egypt] and deplore the fact that [Egyptian] legislation is very restrictive for the construction of churches and much more liberal for mosques,” Africanews observed on May 19.
“Copts have suffered reprisals from radical Islamists, particularly after the army overthrew Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, burning churches, schools and homes,” according to the news agency.