Three Coptic Christian brothers were murdered by a gang of six Muslim men on March 1, in Ibshadat village of Mallawi district in Egypt. The victims, namely, Youssef Youssef Youssef, Afifi Youssef Youssef and Bushra Youssef Youssef, were working on a farm when they were ambushed and killed. The murderers claimed that the killings were to avenge the death of their family member that had happened some 70 years ago. However, no other details about the family member’s death that the murder accused had referred to are available.
The attackers, who hail from the Jaweer village, had first shot the men and then dismembered their body parts. It is alleged that the murderers had danced as they committed the crime and chanted “Allah-hu-Akbar” while returning to their village. Celebrations were allegedly also held at the village of Jaweer; people celebrated while playing musical instruments as soon as the news of the murder reached them. On the other hand, the friends and relatives of the Youssef Youssef family that had lost three sons on the same day broke down and wailed upon hearing about the murders.
Lawyers and people who are familiar with the incident have stated that the three victims were oblivious to the killing (of the Muslim men’s family member) that had happened when even their father was younger. The mutilation of the dead bodies, mirroring the killing style of the Islamic State, aids weight to their claim that this was not a ‘routine’ revenge killing but a religious hate crime.
The accused have been arrested by the police and have reportedly confessed to their crime.
However, this is not the first time Christians have become victims of Islamic fanaticism in the African country with a 90% Muslim majority. Egypt is embroiled in an Islamic State-led insurgency. In the past decade, hundreds of Christian Copts have been butchered in sectarian conflicts; homes, businesses and churches have been destroyed.
Back in April 2021, the Egyptian security forces took down three Islamic State (IS) terrorists who were involved in the slaying of Nabil Habashi, a 62-year-old Coptic Christian jeweler from Bir al-Abd town who was also known for building the only church in the area. Habashi was abducted and killed; the IS had released a 13-minutes long video showing the victim kneeling with three men dressed in black attire standing behind him who eventually shot him in the back of his head.
The IS-led insurgency in Egypt intensified after the military overthrew the elected president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Morsi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), an influential Islamist organization that has followers across the Muslim world and which shares ideological roots with the Jamaat-e-Islami founded in the Bharatiya subcontinent by Maulana Abul A’la Maududi. The IS insurgents have carried out scores of attacks, mainly targeting the security forces, minority Christians and Bedouin tribals who assist the Egyptian Army.
Morsi had swept to power following the ‘Arab Spring’ movement that rocked the Muslim world in 2010-11, and led to anti-government protests and uprisings in different countries. Some analysts believe that this movement was triggered by pro-American interest groups and NGOs like George Soros’ OSF, like the earlier ‘color revolutions’ that shook ex-Soviet and socialist states, to bring the affected countries into a closer relationship with the US and its NATO allies by Westernising their political systems and liberalising their economies.
However, after democracy in Egypt handed power to Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist leaders like Morsi, the Egyptian Army Chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and his Western backers decided to stage a coup in 2013 to overthrow Morsi and revert back to old dictatorial rule. Protesting MB members were massacred and Morsi was thrown in jail. Radical Indian Muslim outfits like PFI and Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) had organised protests in Bharat in support of Morsi and against the ‘murder of democracy’. Ironically, until about a decade back, Jamaat-e-Islami condemned democracy as ‘haram’ (forbidden) and antithetical to Muslim beliefs!
In 2019, Morsi collapsed during a court session and died due to a heart attack. Clearly, in Muslim countries like Egypt, whether there is democracy or not, Islamism, Islamic terrorism and tyranny remain potent threats.