Last Thursday, funeral services were held for the four Copts who were shot the preceding day at the Cleopatra jewellery shop in the Cairo suburb of Zeitoun. On hand to offer their condolences were General Mohamed Abul-Ata on behalf of the head of the president’s office Zakariya Azmy, Qena governor Magdy Iskandar, Consultant of the General Union of expatriate Egyptians Hany Aziz, as well as family members, friends, and thousands of Zeitoun residents, Muslims and Copts alike.
The overwhelming grief of the mourners was coupled with stupefaction at the horrendous crime committed the day before. The 60-year-old shop owner Makram Salib and three young workmen, Amir Mikhail, Boulos Helmy, and Himaya Nosseir, all in their twenties, had just opened the shop—opening hour is 11:00am in Cairo—cleaned it up, and were ready to receive customers. At noontime they were shot dead by two hooded men who came on motorcycles and swiftly ran away. Two other workmen escaped death; Zakariya Wagih was shot in his thigh, and Tamer Gamil, who was in an inner room had a nervous breakdown when he came out at the sound of the shots and found the five men lying in their blood.
Once the crime was reported officials rushed to the scene of the crime, headed by Cairo governor Abdel-Azim Wazir. Police found no marks on any shots on the walls, even though 15 bullets had been shot at the victims. Until Watani went to press investigations had reached nowhere, but the prosecutor-general nevertheless issued a communiqué that the crime as not sectarian.
The crime brings to mind the spate of previous crimes against Coptic goldsmiths and jewellers during the 1990s, which were committed by Islamists. But these were then committed with the aim of looting Coptic money to fund extremist movements. This last crime, however, not a straw went missing from the shop.
Haj Mohamed al-Garhi, the neighbour who reported the crime, joined all the other neighbours in their praise of Mr Salib who, they said was an exemplary neighbour and a man of integrity.