Photo of the murdered Copts.
Seven Egyptian nationals, stone masons by trade and Coptic Christians, were executed Sunday in Benghazi. The city, which was the cradle of the Libyan revolution, is sinking ever deeper into chaos. The crime, which was likely committed for religious reasons, has garnered very little reaction.
The seven corpses were found 30 km west of Benghazi. Egyptian diplomatic sources confirmed their identities.
Three days later, the Egyptian Foreign Minister received a Libyan delegation led by the Libyan ambassador to Egypt. The Libyan diplomats presented their condolences and promised that everything would be done to shed light on these murders.
This is the second time that the Coptic Egyptian population in Benghazi has been targeted. In March 2013, militiamen abducted and tortured several dozen Copts, allegedly because they were proselytizing.
Libya is the second biggest destination for Egyptian immigrants, following Saudi Arabia. According to the Egyptian Coptic church, 50,000 Egyptian Copts currently live in Libya.
WARNING, THE FOLLOWING IMAGES ARE SHOCKING
Photos of the Copt victims.
“Here, it’s one crime after another!”
Feras Bosalum is originally from Benghazi and works with the Reuters office in Libya.
Nobody has claimed responsibility for the crime. Certain media sources have been pointing to a jihadist group, Ansar al-Sharia, because it’s the most well known in the Libyan east. But there are other, far more extremist groups that would not hesitate to attack immigrants for purely religious reasons.The victims were stonemasons of modest means, like the vast majority of Egyptians who come to work in Libya. According to several fellow Copts, masked militiamen broke into several houses being rented by Coptic and Muslim workers. They asked them questions about Islam and checked to see whether they had crosses tattooed on their forearms [as many Copts do]. They abducted seven workers, several of whom were from the same family. Several hours later, their corpses were found in an abandoned field outside the city.“Coptic Egyptians are accused of proselytizing because they speak Arabic”Copts are not the only non-Muslims that come to work in Libya; there are also immigrants from Sub-Saharan Africa. But the latter are francophone, while the Egyptian Copts speak Arabic. So they can communicate more with Libyans and, as a result, they are accused of proselytizing.It is true that Copts were abducted and tortured last year, but at the time we believed it was an isolated act. This time, we’re talking about several premeditated murders.Still, Libyans have already forgotten this incident because violence is part of our daily life, especially in the east. There were three deaths from gun violence in Benghazi as recently as Wednesday. And the fact that these victims were Coptic does not seem to have really caused any reactions. It’s sad to say, but it’s one crime after another, here!Libyan diplomats have promised that an investigation would be launched, but these declarations are only meant to ease tensions with Egypt. Policemen and members of the armed forces have been getting killed for months in Libya, and no one has been arrested to date. The authorities are completely overwhelmed.
According to other Observers in the city, there was little discussion of the murders among the residents of Benghazi. Moreover, the local media barely mentioned them.