Coptic Christians Fleeing Islamist Insurgency In Sinai Peninsula

AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
AP Photo/Hassan Ammar

Between 27 and 30 Coptic Christian families in North Sinai have been forced to flee after receiving death threats from Islamist entities in the region, the Cairo Post reports.

According to Abaoub Girgis, a lawyer who is the coordinator of the Egyptian Copts Coalition in the Sinai, the families left their houses in the area after determining that they were no longer safe in the peninsula.

Girgis said that the families had often received threatening phone calls. Furthermore, the destabilized security climate in the region has created concerns among the Christian communities in the area.

Since the fall of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, the Sinai has seen an unprecedented rise in Islamist insurgencies. Recently, Sinai-based jihadist group Ansar Bayt Al Maqdis pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, and has allegedly coordinated with the Muslim Brotherhood and Palestinian terror group Hamas to carry out attacks against the Egyptian military and other entities. Jihadist outfits have killed hundreds of Egyptian military and police personnel since the downfall of Morsi.

A particularly worrying matter of insecurity to the Copts has been the Islamic State’s declaration that all Christians, or “Crusaders,” are their chief enemy. In its most recent issue of its propaganda magazine, Dabiq, the Islamic State mentions “Christians” or “Crusaders” over 100 times.

The Egyptian Copts Coalition released a statement that read,“Sinai residents are still paying the bill of [the fall of Morsi] with kidnappings, killings, targeting and torching homes and churches and attacking innocents.”

The coalition revealed that two Christian residents were recently killed after their homes had been set ablaze in North Sinai. The statement said that there are 200-300 Coptic families remaining in the Sinai.

Egypt’s Islamist terrorism issues continued into Monday, as two were killed and nine injured when a bomb exploded outside of the Egyptian supreme court.