The families of the 20 Egyptian Christians beheaded on a beach in Libya in 2015 say they have “mixed feelings” after the cameraman who filmed the beheadings reportedly told the authorities where the bodies were buried.
Coptic news site Watani spoke to the families of 13 of the murdered Christians, who were from the village of al-Our in Minya, Upper Egypt.
“They received the news with mixed feelings: renewal of grief for the loss of their children, and joy at the prospect of bringing back their bodies for burial at the church that is being built in their name in the village,” Watani reported. “The church is near-completion, and was built to honour the martyrs by direct order from President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi.”
Egypt recently sentenced seven people to death for their links with the Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for the beheadings and used the footage as propaganda.
Muslim Brotherhood members jailed for life
Meanwhile, 12 members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been given life sentences – including the group’s former Supreme Guide, Muhammad Badie – for their part in the violence of August 2013, when 69 churches were ransacked and set on fire. Seventy-seven other Muslim Brotherhood members were sentenced to 15 years.
One of the churches finally reopened only on Saturday (30 October) in the village of Beni Mazar in Minya.
The governorate of Minya, south of Cairo, is home to 5 million people, of whom 35-40 per cent are Copts.
In August, Minya’s bishop, Macarius, expressed his disillusionment “at the failure of negotiations with security authorities in Minya to reopen churches closed by security order” because churches either lacked security approval or were considered offensive to Muslims and therefore a threat to social harmony.
Minya has also experienced the greatest number of sectarian attacks, with more than 75 targeting Christian residents in the past six years.