The bodies of Gamal Sami and his wife, Nadia, were found on 6 January.
The bodies of Gamal Sami and his wife, Nadia, were found on 6 January. (Magdy Amin Girgis)

Two Egyptian Coptic Christians found dead in their bed on 6 January – the traditional Christmas celebration for Copts – were murdered because of their faith, according to the brother of the dead woman.

Police said robbery was the motivation for the deaths of Gamal Sami, 60 and his wife, Nadia, 48, but her brother, Magdy Amin Girgis – the first person to reach the crime scene – told World Watch Monitor nothing was taken from the couple’s home.

Magdy found his sister still wearing her jewellery after the double killing, and nothing missing.

He’d visited the house in Minufiyah, northern Egypt, after being alerted by the couple’s son, Kirolos, who works out of the area and who had been trying to contact them on their mobile phones.

Worried, Kirolos contacted Magdy at 11am and asked him to visit the couple’s home. Magdy, who’d had dinner with the couple only the night before (5 Jan), when they’d planned their Christmas visit to the Mar Girgis church in their village, said “[Kirolos] was very worried about them. I told him that I was with them yesterday evening and they were fine.”

Magdy decided to try phoning his sister and her husband, but they did not answer so he immediately headed to their home.

No-one answered the door but he managed to get in with the help of a carpenter. He told World Watch Monitor he found the couple, both stabbed, with their throats cut and “drenched in blood,” still on their bed. On looking around their home, he said he thought the murderers had come through an abandoned property behind his sister’s and then entered by breaking a window on the stairs.

The bodies of the couple were transferred to Tala Hospital morgue for an autopsy. Later the same day, their funeral, attended by many, was held at Mar Girgis Coptic Orthodox Church amid tight security. They were buried at a family cemetery in Tukh Dalakah village.

The funeral service in Mar Girgis Coptic Orthodox church, 6 Jan 2017.
The funeral service in Mar Girgis Coptic Orthodox church, 6 Jan 2017. (Magdy Amin Girgis)

Gamal ran a shop selling mobile phones from the first floor of the couple’s home, while Nadia worked for an insurance company in Tala. As well as Kirolos, the couple also had a married daughter, Marian.

The murders followed another deadly attack on a Coptic Christian only three days earlier. Youssef Lamei was murdered in Alexandria on 3 January by an alleged “professional” killer. The attack on the couple bore similarities with Lamei’s murder, according to reports.

The main suspects for the double killing are two men known only as Mohammad M and Abd al-Aziz Q, according to the police. It is understood that the two men did not know their victims.

The village where the couple lived, Tukh El-Dalkah, near Tala, is mainly Christian and has three churches. (All cancelled their Christmas services to mark their grief at the double murder.)

However, it’s reported that the area, about 70 miles (110km) south of Alexandria, has many Salafist villages. Coptic Christians make up about 10 per cent of Egypt’s population.