Please also read Hatred Kills in Egypt, here at One Saint.
International Christian Concern
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Killed Because of the Cross: The Death of an Egyptian Christian
Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East
International Christian Concern
It was a Friday afternoon on March 28 when Mary Sameh George was doing what she does every Friday. After leaving her job at a communications company, she drove to Ain Shams neighborhood in Cairo, to deliver food and medicine to elderly Christians and Muslims.
"I called Mary by my mobile and she was very happy on this day," Khalil*, a friend of Mary's, told ICC. "She told me that she sold many SIM-cards and then she was driving out to visit the elderly needy and sick people in Ezbet El Nakhl," he continued. "I asked her to take care and we finished the call."
This was the last time that Khalil spoke to Mary, a 24-year-old, with a bachelor's degree in Law from Ain Shams University, who was planning to be engaged in May. Two hours later, Khalil saw on television that a Christian girl was among four people killed by protestors in Ain Shams. Mary was that Christian girl.
They Saw a Cross and Recognized She Was a Christian, So They Attacked Her
ICC spoke with Wahid, a resident of Ain Shams who saw the riots, and from his apartment, witnessed the events that led to Mary's death.
"Every Friday the supporters of Muslim Brotherhood organize a march after Fridayprayer in Ain Shams," he told ICC. "On this Friday afternoon, violent clashes took place between the supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the security forces during their march at intersection of Musab Saleh Street and Ahmed Esmat Street."
The clashes this Friday were especially intense because they came just days after 529 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood were given death sentences for their roles in violence across the country.
"Pro Muslim-Brotherhood supporters were armed and shot at the security forces, so the security forces used tear gas to disperse them. After that exchange, the Pro Muslim-Brotherhood supporters moved toward the Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael Church in Ahmed Esmat Street and began firing shots toward the church and a gas station nearby. The security forces and local residents were able to confront them and disperse them," Wahid continued.
"Mary had stopped her vehicle and parked in front of the Sun Private School in Ain Shams Street, near the Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael Church, because of the march," said Wahid.
"The Muslim Brotherhood supporters saw a hanging cross on her car and recognized that she was a Christian, so they attacked her," he said.
"They jumped on top of her vehicle, to the point that the roof collapsed, and violently removed her from her vehicle; they severely beat her, tore her clothes, and stabbed her multiple times. They were chanting 'Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar' and cursing her while stabbing her. Then one of them shot her in the back and that led to her death. After killing her they set her car on fire," Wahid said.
"None of the local residents could intervene and rescue the life of Mary because there were a lot of Muslim Brotherhood supporters surrounding the car; plus, many of them were armed, and if anyone confronted them they would kill him," Wahid added.
"Here, Every Friday is a Day of Death"
The sad fact is that violent protests have become common place. "Here in Ain Shams, we know that every Friday is a day of death," a Coptic resident told Coptic Solidarity.
Nageh Afifi, a resident of Ain Shams, told ICC about an incident on February 12. A protest starting at the Tawhid Mosque turned violent; four security guards posted outside two different churches were attacked. Two of them were killed and the other two were hospitalized.
"There have been so many similar incidents," Hal Meawad of Coptic Solidarity told ICC.
"Ever since January 25, 2011, there has been a breakdown in the security situation on the streets. Christians are paying a very high price for this breakdown," Meawad said.
While the violence has affected many across Egypt, Christians have been especially targeted. In the violent protests on March 28, three others, including a 22-year-old journalist, were killed in the crossfire between the protestors and the security forces. Four men have been arrested for their role in her death, Daily News Egypt reports.
George Farid, a lawyer for Mary's family, told MidEast Christian News that the family has filed a police report, but that no one has been arrested in relation to her killing.
The security forces need to continue to pursue those responsible for the killing of Mary, but that will not replace the loss that her family and friends have experienced.
"She was a sincere servant, she loved the Lord from her deep heart, all the Church's youth loved her so much; the Church lost a good servant," Khalil continued.
Crowds gathered at the St. George Church in Manshiyet al-Tahreer, Cairo to attend the funeral for Mary, Watani reported.
While they mourned the death of Mary, they also raised their voices to call for national unity and an end to the violence that has claimed far too many lives.
For interviews, contact Todd Daniels, Regional Manager for the Middle East: RM-ME@persecution.org
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