(Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany)
Father Youssef Sobhi, priest of the St. George Church in Rafah, has stated that Christian Copts are being subjected to severe violations in Sinai, including attacks and kidnappings.
Fr. Sobhi said clergymen are also being violated and threatened, insulted, and even spat at as they walk on the streets since the dismissal of Morsi.
"Father Mina Abboud Sharoubim, who was murdered last Saturday, was driving his car in Masaeed when he was stopped by armed assailants and shot nine times, three in his leg and six in his head and chest, which led to severe internal bleeding and death," Fr. Sobhi told Mideast Christian News.
Fr. Sobhi noted that the day before, Father Mina and his wife had heard gunshots in front of their house.
Fr. Sobhi stated that there is no truth whatsoever in what is being circulated in the media about the assailants killing Father Mina to steal money he had in his possession. He clarified that he was murdered because of the sectarian strife in the Sinai and Islamic group Gamaat Islamiya controlling the area who claim that Copts were behind the dismissal of Morsi.
Since Morsi's dismissal, Fr Sobhi added, forces have been ordered to secure churches in the region, including the St. Mina Church, the Angel's Church in Salam, the St. George's Church in Rafah and the Abu Sefein's Church in Safa. The need to do so has spread fear among Copts.
"Clergymen in Sinai have been exposed to all kinds of harassment and insults as they walk on the streets since the 25 January revolution," Fr. Sobhi explained, noting that people have even spat on them and threatened them with murder.
Further, the threats have escalated since the dismissal of President Morsi, proven by the murder of Father Mina Abboud.
"On 29 January 2011, the St. George Church in Rafah was burned by the hands of unidentified assailants after they stormed and looted the church. The security failed to intervene," Fr. Sobhi said.
Rafah used to have a very old church, with a priest from Shebin El-Koum serving it, but he was wounded during the Israeli occupation of the Sinai by shrapnel to the leg.
Sinai Bedouins ended up destroying that church, which is located on Egypt's eastern borders, stating that they have tried to reconstruct it, but officials during the era of Mubarak refused, negotiating terms over relinquishing the church, and agreeing to take another piece of land in Rafah, which was also destroyed in 2011.