Three members of a Coptic Christian family in Upper Egypt were attacked outside their home by a dagger-wielding Muslim man, leaving one son in critical condition.
Morning Star News, a leading persecution monitoring nonprofit news outlet, has reported on the case of Shinoda Aziz. Aziz, along with his mother and a younger brother, were attacked Sunday while sitting outside his family’s home in the Nassiriya village, near Beni Mazar, in the Minya Governorate.
According to news reports, the suspect, known only as Ali M, approached the Coptic family while they were sitting outside in front of their home on Sunday night.
The suspect is accused of telling the family that they should not sit outside because no Christians are allowed outside. The man is said to have shouted for them to go back inside.
However, Aziz, the eldest son, objected to the assailant’s demands and stood up to him.
According to sources, the suspect then walked to his house to grab a weapon, a dagger, before walking back to Aziz's family's home where he attacked them. When Aziz's mother began to scream, neighbors said the assailant stabbed her in the head and then attacked her youngest son, who suffered cuts to his face.
Aziz was taken to the hospital with several wounds to his stomach.
Morning Star News reports that police have arrested the suspect in connection with the stabbings. Additionally, witnesses are being questioned.
Sources in Minya told Morning Star News that the village where the attack occurred is largely peaceful and has a predominant Coptic population.
In Egypt as a whole, Christians comprise about 10 percent of the national population, according to Open Doors USA’s 2019 World Watch List report.
In Defense of Christians, a leading international advocacy organization for Middle Eastern Christians, took to Twitter to voice its concerns following reports of the stabbing.
“While attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt are not uncommon, IDC remains concerned for the safety of the Coptic community and hopes that authorities in the region take the appropriate actions in serving justice to Shinoda Aziz and his family,” IDC’s tweet reads.
Open Doors USA, which monitors persecution in dozens of countries worldwide, ranks Egypt as the 16th worst country in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians.
“Because of religious discrimination in Egypt, Christians suffer from persecution in various ways. Islamic culture fuels religious discrimination in Egypt and creates an environment causing the state to be reluctant to respect and enforce the fundamental rights of Christians,” an Open Doors fact sheet reads. “Though President el-Sisi has publicly expressed his commitment to protecting Christians, his government’s actions and extremist groups’ continued Christian persecution attacks on individuals and churches, leaves Christians feeling insecure and extremely cautious.”
The attack in Nassiriya village follows the reported killing in October of a Christian convert named Hussein Mohammed, also known as George, by a Muslim family. Mohammed was reportedly killed over a Facebook post.
In November 2018, seven Coptic pilgrims were killed and 19 others were injured in a bus attack carried out while they were on their way to a desert monastery in Minya. The attack had been claimed by the Islamic State.
A similar bus attack occurred near the same Minya monastery in 2017 and took the lives of 29 Christians.
In July, everything inside the Minya home of a 26-year-old Coptic Christian named Fady Youssef Todary was destroyed by an angry mob after someone hacked into his Facebook account to post a blasphemous message.
A few days later, Todary, his 19-year-old brother and two uncles were arrested and charged with blasphemy.
According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, there are 84 countries today that have blasphemy laws on their books.
Although strides are being made by the Egyptian government, Open Doors notes that the “state makes it nearly impossible for believers to get any official recognition of their conversion.”
“Though Egypt has approved applications for more than 500 churches (out of 3,000 filed over the last two years), Christians of all backgrounds still face difficulty in building churches or finding a place to worship together with other believers,” Open Doors notes.