Youssef Lamei, a 45-year-old Christian, was sitting outside his shop in Alexandria in the early hours of 3rd January, when a man crept up behind him and slit his throat whilst reportedly shouting “Allahu Akbar” [God is great]. The murder was recorded on CCTV, and a suspect, 48-year-old Adel Suleiman, has been arrested.
Youssef Lamei had run the shop, which sold alcohol, amongst other things, for 40 years.
According to reports, Adel Suleiman said to investigators, “I told him several times not to sell the alcohol but he did not listen to me.” Alcohol is forbidden to Muslims, according to sharia law. The national security department of Egypt confirmed that the murder was religiously motivated, saying, “The accused was not prompted by any political or criminal motives but had embraced takfiri thinking four years ago.”
Takfir is an Islamic term for the act of declaring a person to be a non-Muslim, or unbeliever (kafir), thus making them a legitimate target of jihad and meaning it is permissible to kill them. It is used by Islamist groups to sanction violence, most often against other Muslims whom they consider insufficiently devout.
Normally Christians are protected from violence under sharia law, on condition they submit to a raft of humiliating dhimmi rules and restrictions.
A few days later, on 6th January, when Christmas is celebrated in Egypt, a Christian couple, Gamal Sami, 60, and wife Nadia, 48, were found stabbed to death in their bed in the northern province of Monufia. According to police, two men, known only as Mohammad M and Abd al-Aziz Q, are being sought for the double murder. It is believed they did not know their victims.
In the third attack, on 13th January, a Christian surgeon, Dr. Bassam Safouat Zaki, was found dead in his home, also with stab wounds. He lived in Assuit, some 230 miles south of Cairo.
The vulnerability of Christians in Egypt was brought sharply home last year, with a number of attacks on churches and individuals, including the suicide attack at a church service in Cairo in December that killed 27.
The New Year has barely begun, and already these three unprovoked attacks have taken place, once again highlighting the risk of being a Christian in today’s Egypt.
- Pray for the families of those who have been killed for their faith this month in Egypt. Pray for comfort as they mourn, and for the all surrounding peace of Christ to fill their hearts and homes.
- Pray for those who seek to harm Egypt’s Christian community. Pray that they, themselves will have life changing encounters with Jesus Christ, and come to acknowledge Him as Lord and King.
- Pray for Egypt’s Christian communities, for courage in their faith and witness, for peace in their homes and communities, and for protection from radical Islamists.
- Pray for the Government of Egypt, to make true their promise of protection for Egypt’s Christians, and for freedom of belief and worship for all people.
Matthew 10 vs 28 – 29: “ Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father. “