Egyptian Policeman Sentenced to Death for Killing Christians Egyptian Policeman Sentenced to Death for Killing Christians
Egyptian Policeman Sentenced to Death for Killing Christians

Egyptian Policeman Sentenced to Death for Killing Christians

Egyptian Policeman Sentenced to Death for Killing Christians

by Jeremy Reynalds, ASSIST News Service

An Egyptian court in Minya has sentenced a Muslim man to death for the killing and wounding of six Christians.

According to a story by Mary Abdelmassih of the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA), Judge Mahmoud Salama pronounced the sentence against 29 year-old policeman Amer Ashour Abdel-Zaher.

AINA said during its previous session, the court had referred the case to the Egyptian Grand Mufti, as is usual with a death penalty verdict, who supported the court's decision. The court session was to pronounce the verdict.

In December 2010 Abdel-Zaher, who worked as a policeman at the Bani Mazar police investigations unit, was on a train going to Cairo from Assiut in the upper Egyptian town of Samalut. He fired his gun at six Copts after chanting “Allahu Akbar.”

AINA said according to eyewitnesses, he walked up and down the train car, looking for passengers with the sign of the cross tattooed on their wrist, which the majority of Copts have, or any other sign revealing their Christian identity. He aimed at six Copts sitting together, dressed in western-style clothes and singing Christian hymns. He opened fire on them, killing a 71 year-old Fathy Ghattas, who died immediately as he slept.

AINA said another five Copts were seriously injured including the murdered man's wife, Emily Hanna, who underwent an operation to remove her left kidney and spleen. Another Coptic woman, Sabah Saniod, 54, underwent an operation on her liver. Three young Copts, Marianne, Maggie and her fiance Ashraf were severely wounded and were taken by helicopter to a Cairo hospital.

AINA said Abdel-Zaher attempted to escape, but was caught by a passenger.

According to AINA, the Egyptian Interior Ministry issued several statements to “cover up” the sectarian motives behind the incident. The Ministry said the assailant shot indiscriminately at passengers, was “mentally unstable,” and had previously undergone medical treatment.

AINA said today's verdict was a surprise to the Egyptian Christians, as “usually killers of Christians, literally get away with murder,” commented Coptic activist Mark Ebeid.

He added, “They are usually referred to hospital for being ‘mentally unstable,’ and after the matter has died down, they are just quietly discharged from hospital for being cured and this is usually the end of the story for the families of victims.”

AINA said Coptic activist Mina Yacoub, of the Maspero Coptic Youth Federation, was less optimistic.

He said the ruling is because of this week's Egyptian presidential elections, where Islamists are hoping to get some of the Coptic votes and are trying to prove to them that ‘Islam is a 'just religion’ and they have nothing to worry about with the application of Sharia, which they are advocating.”

Yacoub added, “Why has the death penalty never been passed on a Muslim for killing a Christian, it is because Islam plainly says in Hadith 9:50, 57 ‘No umma (a member of Muslim community) should be killed for killing a Kafir (infidel), and this has been applied diligently by judges.”

AINA said referring to the death penalty passed in January 2011 on Muslim Hammam el-Kamouni, who shot dead six Copts as they left church on Coptic Christmas Eve on January 6, 2010 in Nag Hammadi, he explained that with the six murdered Copts was a Muslim policeman who died by mistake and this death penalty was in lieu of his blood.
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