By BosNewsLife Middle East Service with reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos
CAIRO/DAMASCUS (BosNewsLife)– The Islamic State group has published a report with photos suggesting the possible execution of 21 Coptic Christian construction workers from Egypt who were kidnapped while working in Sirte, Libya, BosNewsLife established Sunday, February 15.
In the group’s English language magazine Dabiq, used for propaganda and recruitment, the abducted men could be seen wearing orange execution dresses, their hands tightened with ropes, and being led by masked men on a sea shore.
They were shown in another picture with knives put over their throats in a slaughter position.
While showing the Coptic hostages in death dress, there was no explicit mention of whether they have already been executed.
The story on attacking “the Coptic Crusaders” claimed the abducted workers were “captured by members of the organization in retaliation of what the West inflicts upon Muslims.”
Militants accused the ‘Copts’, the native Christians of Egypt, of being followers of late (Pope) Shenouda and supporters of the taghut (tyrant) Sisi and warned that the Islamic State group “strikes terror in the hearts of the Copts.”
Coptic Solidarity, a Christian advocacy group, confirmed that the Islamic State group appears to refer to the abduction of the 21 Coptic workers in Libya nearly six weeks ago and prior attacks on churches in Egypt.
The article, obtained by BosNewsLife, concluded with a call to kill Copts anywhere: “Finally, it is important for Muslims everywhere to know that there is no doubt in the reward to be found on Judgment Day for those who spill the blood of these Coptic crusaders wherever they may be found…”
Coptic Solidarity said it condemns this “heinous kidnapping” and “urges the Egyptian government to do everything possible to save the Coptic hostages.”
The advocacy group said it would hold Egypt’s government responsible “to protect its own citizens in Libya, including evacuating them from areas of danger.” Rights activists say Egypt has done little to prevent the deaths and kidnappings of Egyptian Christians in Libya, known as ‘Copts’.
In December, Christians in Libya were plunged into mourning after a young Egyptian couple working as medical aid workers and their teenage daughter were killed for their Christian faith by suspected Islamic militants.
Magdy Sobhy Tawfiq, Sahar Talaat Rizk, and 13-year-old Catherine died in the Libyan city of Sirte –halfway between the capital Tripoli and Benghazi — where they lived since 2001, according to family members.
Coptic Solidarity said it had urged Egypitian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to “immediately take the lead to save the innocent workers, abducted for their faith and possibly to revenge Mr. Sissi’s war on Islamist fighters.”
It noted that, “Confronting the [Islamic] State terrorists in Egypt’s western flank is no less important than combating them in Sinai”, where several Christians are known to have been kidnapped.
The attacks seem part of an effort by Islamic State to expand their attacks to other countries in the wider region, including Egypt and Libya.
Since June, as many as 150,000 Christians have fled their homes in especially Iraq and Syria, after Islamic State militants invaded regions of northern Iraq, including the largely Christian city of Mosul, and Syrian areas.
Christians were also issued an ultimatum to convert to Islam, pay a religious fine, or face death.
Many Christians and others were shot, beheaded or in some cases crucified by the militants, who declared territories in Iraq and Syria as their “Islamic Caliphate.”
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