20 January 2018

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Egypt launches air strikes against the Islamic State in Libya, after the beheading of 21 Copts

Training camps and military arsenals in Libya targeted. Al-Sisi states that "Egypt and the entire world" must counter the Islamist challenge. Video released of the beheading of 21 Egyptian workers. Strong confessional connotation as a "revenge" against "people of the cross". "We are just south of Rome." Italian embassy in Tripoli evacuated.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - The Egyptian Air Force carried out dawn raids on Islamic State (IS) positions in Libya. State television announced the military operation, following the release online of an IS video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts. The raid targeted training camps and military arsenals near the border with Libya.

Yesterday, after the release of the video on the execution of 21 Egyptians, in a televised speech, President Abdelfattah Al Sisi said that Egypt "reserves the right to respond in a suitable way and time". He also declared seven days of mourning in the country for the killing of 21 Egyptians.

The video shows the 21 hostages handcuffed and wearing the orange jumpsuit of the condemned. After a short walk to a beach, they are made to kneel and are beheaded by 21 masked executioners dressed in black (see photo).

Rumors of the execution had filtered through days before and Egypt had sought confirmations. From the beginning the prisoners were branded as "Copts", emphasizing the confessional character of the execution, although it is likely that 21 victims were in Libya only for work. Most of them came from poor areas of Upper Egypt.

The Coptic Church has however confirmed that those executed are Coptic faithful and "trust" that the perpetrators will be brought to justice. The University of Al Azhar, the undisputed authority of the Islamic world based in Cairo, has condemned the execution as a "barbaric" gesture.

The IS video is titled " A message signed with blood to the nation of the cross " and defines the hostages "people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian Church ". The alleged "hostility" of the Coptic Church is explained in a caption that appears after the beheading, which says: " The filthy blood is just some of what awaits you, in revenge for Camilia and her sisters".

The rreference is to an episode dating to 2004, and concerns two women, Wafa 'Constantine and Camelia Shehata, wives of two priests, who had marital problems. According to the jihadists, they converted to Islam and were kidnapped by the Church and hidden. In fact, it is true that women had marital problems, but it is not true that they converted. The late head of Al-Azhar, Tantawi, has decreed that there is no proof of their conversion. In time, the two women were handed over to the Church, for fear of possible kidnapping by Islamic movements, and they were brought to some monasteries. This story regularly returns in the narratives of Muslim fundamentalists to justify the terrorist acts against Christians.

Egypt is alleged to have already launched air strikes against the Islamists in Libya last year.

Since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has been plunged into an institutional and military chaos, since many militias are inspired by the jihad. A few months ago some of them officially declared alliance with the IS.

For Al-Sisi " Egypt and the whole world are in a fierce battle with extremist groups carrying extremist ideology and sharing the same goals". As if to confirm, in the video, one of the Executioners with his face covered and waving a knife in front of the camera warns in English: " Today we are in the south of Rome, in the land of Islam Libya... the sea you have hidden Sheikh Osama bin Laden's body in, we swear to Allah we will mix it with your blood".

Yesterday, due to the high tension, Italy closed its embassy in Tripoli, asking all nationals to leave the country.


See also

Copts beheaded in Libya: the families’ Calvary, the pain of Muslims
The young men murdered by the Islamic State, where in Libya for work, many of them had waited to get married and were helping their relatives at home. The fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and wives of those killed are in shock. Many, unable to bear the news of the tragedy, have been hospitalized. The solidarity of the villages, of the Churches and the nation, which is increasingly united. The list of those killed. From our AsiaNews correspondent in Egypt. Part I.

12/10/2017 14:01:00 EGYPT - LIBYA
Fr. Rafic: Discovery of remains of Coptic martyrs in Libya brings ‘comfort’

The Egyptian Catholic Church spokesman says the discovery "renders justice" to families. In the past elements of the Muslim Brotherhood had questioned the massacre. Construction of the Martyrs Church of Libya at Aour completed. The government is moving for the repatriation of bodies, but operations are difficult.

23/02/2015 EGYPT-LIBYA
Escape from Libyan hell: Egyptian migrants tell of ordeal and Islamic State torture
Over 10 thousand Egyptians have returned. Many of them, kidnapped by Muslim gangs, were forced to work without food and water. Several were marked on the scalp with an "S" out of contempt for al-Sisi, the Egyptian president. At least 45 of the returnees need medical and psychological care to help them deal with shock.

10/04/2017 10:48:00 EGYPT - ISLAM
Attacks on Egypt’s churches, what really happened

The toll is of 43 dead and 114 wounded in the two attacks. A lot of the faithful want to bury the dead in the church's crypt. Daesh claims the attacks. The Muslim Brotherhood is complicit. President Al-Sisi declares a three-month state of emergency


10/04/2017 19:44:00 ISLAM – EGYPT
Young Muslim on the blood of Palm Sunday

Yesterday was Black Sunday for Christians around the world. Since 2013 more than 40 Egyptian churches have been torched or damaged. Muhammad signed a pact with the Christians, the pledge of St Catherine. What happened in Egypt against Copts is purely ideological and political. Saudi Arabia has plans for the region.

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