On 14th of May 2018 the Egyptian state circumvented all red tape pertaining to repatriating deceased Egyptian citizens abroad and carried the remains of 20 Christian Egyptians beheaded by ISIS in Libya three years ago back to Egypt. The remains were found buried in the Libyan city Serte and were uncovered after Libyan authorities took back the city from Islamic militants and apprehended one of the ISIS members who took part in this heinous crime. The terrorist confessed and led the authorities to the whereabouts of the burial ground. The Egyptian state did not just handle their repatriation, which averagely costs British relatives of the deceased from $4,700 to $6,500 to repatriate one body from a country as close as Spain, it also held an official reception attended by Nabila Makram Obeid, Egyptian Minster of Immigration and Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria and Patrarch of the St. Mark. Moreover, the government conducted DNA tests to identify the remains so that each can be buried in his home town.
This was not the first action taken by the Egyptian state regarding this atrocious assault on Egyptian Christians, a few hours after ISIS released a video showing the beheading president El-Sisi ordered two waves of Egyptian F16 fighters’ bombardment attacks on training sites and weapons storage areas in the militant-held city of Derna. It was the first officially announced out-of-border engagement of the Egyptian military since the Libyan-Egyptian war in 1977.
In a Middle East blistering with religious wars, where Sunnis fight Shiites in Iraq, Syria and Yemen and where Christians and other religions followers or none believers are targeted by Islamic militants in Iraq, Syria and Libya the Egyptian 30th of June state keeps sending resilient messages that it will defend and honor its Christian citizens against all enemies foreign and domestic. In May 2017 Egypt launched a fresh wave of air strikes against Libyan terrorist bases in response to the killing of 29 Coptic Christians south of Cairo in a church bomb, with a warning of further retaliation possible, The Guardian. What is mind boggling is how are very significant actions like this ignored when the New York Times publishes an article for Mona ElTahawy titled “Egypt’s Cruelty to Christians” in which she says: “Mr. Sisi has portrayed himself as the savior and protector of Egyptian Christians because it was he who ousted President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood and has led the effort against the Islamist insurgency in Sinai. In 2013, Mr. Sisi became the first Egyptian president to attend Christmas Mass, and this month he attended the funeral of those killed in the Dec. 11 bombing. But Christians remain vulnerable to both the regime and its armed militant opponents.”!! So, although her article was published in December 2016 and the attack on Egyptian Christians and its retaliatory action was in Feb 2015 she fails to mention it maybe because it will weaken her rant about how the Egyptian government is cruel to its Christian citizens. The United States of America, with all its capabilities, under Obama failed to take and announce a swift retaliatory action when Islamic militants killed its Ambassador in Benghazi along with an information officer and two CIA operatives, and Egypt, with much limited resources, takes an action a few hours after the video was released, yet the writer doesn’t notice it in a piece dedicated to how Christians are treated by the Egyptian government!
There is no question that there is and will always be more to be done about protection of minority rights including Christians, other religions, non-believers, women, LGBT and others in Egypt and the rest of the world but it is utterly unfair to ignore the major political-will shift that materialized in Egypt vis-à-vis Christian rights since the 30th of June revolution. ElTahawy proceeds distorting facts as she talks about the first law, since the Othman empire, that allows Christians to build new churches in Egypt. She said: “The Egyptian Parliament recently ratified such bigotry when it passed a long-awaited law imposing restrictions on the construction and renovation of churches. No such restrictions apply to Muslims and mosques.” On the other hand, Margret Azer, deputy chairwoman of the Egyptian parliament’s Human Rights Committee and a Coptic member of Parliament, said that Christian MPs voiced strong reservations when the law was first submitted by the government one month ago. “But after some articles of the law were amended in response to our demands, we decided to vote for it,” Al Ahram Weekly. But I guess Mrs. ElTahawy knows more about the needs of the Egyptian Christians than the Christian parliament members elected to represent them!!