Friday,22 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1364, (12 - 18 October 2017)
Friday,22 February, 2019
Issue 1364, (12 - 18 October 2017)

Ahram Weekly


Al-Ahram Weekly

Bodies to be retrieved

THE BODIES of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians decapitated in February 2015 in Libya have been discovered in Sirte, the Libyan attorney-general said last week, ending a chapter on a horrendous incident for bereaved families seeking closure.

The bodies are supposed to be shipped to Cairo soon to be buried in their places of birth.

The bodies of the Egyptians, killed by Islamic State militants in Libya, were found on the outskirts of the coastal city of Sirte with their hands cuffed behind their backs, dressed in the same orange jumpsuits they were wearing in a video that showed their beheading, Libyan officials said.

The attorney-general’s office said the heads of the victims were found nearby, and that DNA tests would be carried out in order to identify the bodies.

There are demands to bury bodies of Coptic Egyptians in Coptic monasteries of Upper Egypt such as Akhmim. Among the places where the bodies will be buried is the Martyr Museum initiated by the General Bishop Armia of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Centre in the Abbaseya Cathedral.

The disclosure came one week after Tripoli’s Attorney-General Saddik Al-Sour announced that one of the militants who had filmed the execution had been captured.

Libya’s fragmentation following Muammar Gaddafi’s ouster in 2011 has left Libya in turmoil and resulted in two rival governments: one internationally recognised and based in Tripoli and another in the west of the country, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who served for decades under Gaddafi before becoming his main opponent in exile.

The security vacuum left since Gaddafi’s death has allowed terror groups and weapons and human trafficking gangs to take control of large parts of the country.

These groups targeted Egyptians living in Libya in various incidents.

The death toll has grown steadily. In September 2013 an Egyptian was shot dead in Sirte following an argument with two armed men. In February 2014 the bodies of seven Egyptian Christians were found near Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, shot in what appeared to be a sectarian attack.

The same year saw the abduction of five Egyptian diplomats in Tripoli. They were believed to have been kidnapped in retaliation for the arrest in Alexandria of the head of the Libyan Islamist group Revolutionary Chamber Shaaban Hadeya, aka Abu Obayda Al-Zawi.

The diplomats were released two days later, after Al-Zawi appeared on television to announce he had been freed by Egyptian authorities. The Foreign Ministry subsequently withdrew all embassy and consular staff from Tripoli and Benghazi.

Incidents of torture and the kidnapping of Egyptian Christians accused of religious proselytising have also been reported.

In the last few years the Foreign Ministry has issued several warnings to Egyptian citizens still living in Libya to exercise extreme caution and avoid areas where clashes are taking place and warnings to Egyptians not to travel to Libya.

In 2015, efforts intensified to bring back thousands of Egyptian workers who live and work in Libya.

The efforts were in response to the beheading of the 21 Christians. At that time, some 750,000 Egyptians were working in Libya, the majority employed in construction.

Twenty-first century diplomats

THE EGYPTIAN Agency of Partnership for Development (EAPD) on Sunday launched a capacity-building programme for 100 diplomats from 40 African states entitled “21st Century Diplomats and Economic Diplomacy”, part of the agency’s strategy to support African cadres in collaboration with Egyptian centres of excellence in areas related to development.

Nigeria, Tanzania, South Sudan, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo were among the countries taking part in the programme.

Hazem Fahmi, secretary-general of the EAPD, said the programme aims at developing the skills of diplomats in increasing trade exchanges between African countries and the world in cooperation with the International Business Driving Licence (IBDL).

Fahmi added that EAPD’s role included holding 230 courses attended by 6,877 trainees in health, irrigation, agriculture, security, renewable energy and anti-corruption.

The EAPD, affiliated to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, was established in the framework of a wider political vision aimed at strengthening Egypt’s presence in Africa and enabling it to play a more active role on the continent.

Italian tourist referred to court

AN ITALIAN tourist accused of beating an Egyptian hotel manager to death in the Red Sea resort of Marsa Alam was referred to criminal court on 10 October. According to Egypt’s Tourism Ministry, the deadly assault took place when a heated argument erupted between the tourist and a hotel manager in August.

The manager warned the tourist and his two children to leave an off-limits construction area in the hotel, the ministry says. The tourist was arrested and later released on LE100,000 bail (around $5,600) in September after a ruling by a Hurghada court.

According to judicial sources, the prosecutor-general has placed a travel ban on the defendant, who has signed an agreement to remain in Egypt and appear before investigating authorities whenever he is summoned.

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