On Feb. 15, ISIS released a video of the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians that had been kidnapped while working in Libya. Many of those killed were from the Upper Egyptian provinces of Menya and Assiyut, who, devastated by conditions of extreme poverty in their home states, were forced to travel to war-torn Libya to work as manual laborers, barely eking out a living for their families back home.
OpedSpace sent two reporters to Upper Egypt to speak with the families and members of the community of the 21 who were killed by ISIS for their faith. They produced the video above, which was shot in collaboration with Mohamed El Laymouni of “Hearts of Egypt”.
Their families moved us, calling those killed “martyrs” who died for their faith, unwilling to renounce their Christianity in a region that has become increasingly hostile to them in the past few years. The father of slain Egyptian, Essam Samir, went so far as to say that they had been “blessed by their [ISIS] hands” as his son had been guaranteed a place in heaven.
The brutal killings highlight the tenuous position of religious minorities in the post-Arab Spring Middle East as well as the role economic privation and hardship plays in driving young men and women into some of the most dangerous war zones in the hope of securing a life of dignity.
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