Christian Man Killed in Egypt Shooting; 5 Wounded

A Christian man was shot dead Tuesday while aboard a train in southern Egypt.

According to The Los Angeles Times, the state news agency MENA reported that an off-duty Muslim policeman opened fire on the Cairo-bound train. Fathi Saeed Ebaid, 71, was killed while his wife and four other Christians were wounded.

Coptic Christians are still reeling from a deadly bombing that took the lives of at least 21 Christians as they were leaving a New Year's Eve service. It is suspected that a suicide bomber was behind the attack outside the Coptic Christian church in Alexandria.

The bombing was condemned by world leaders, including President Barack Obama, as a clear attack targeting Christian worshippers.

It is unclear what the motivation behind Tuesday's shooting was. The gunman was Amer Ashour Abdel Zaher, who was arrested, according to the LA Times.

Egypt is ranked the 19th worst persecutor of Christians in the world by persecution watchdog Open Doors.

Christians, who make up eight to 12 percent of the country's population, have demanded more protection from the state for their community.

In the wake of heightened persecution in Egypt, Iraq and Nigeria, Pope Benedict XVI made an appeal Monday, demanding that governments around the world adopt measures to protect religious minorities.

Though Egypt's constitution provides for freedom of belief and the practice of religious rites, respect for religious freedom by the government remains poor. The government has failed to prosecute perpetrators of violence against Coptic Christians in a number of cases.

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