Four Muslim men shot three Copts whilst they were leaving church following the Easter mass. The incidents were motivated by revenge and did not have a sectarian element.
Security sources declared that four Muslim men’s shots rained down upon three Christian men when they emerged from church after having celebrated the Easter mass. Two of the men died immediately and the third was hospitalized in a critical state.
The incident took place on Saturday evening in Hijāzah village, Qina governorate in Upper Egypt. The shooters belong to the al-Hadāyil family who wanted to take revenge on the Sulaymān Coptic family. Amīr Stephanos, 22 years old and Hedra Adīb Sa‘īd, 22 years old died and Mīnā Samīr Jab Allāh was taken to Luxor International Hospital.
The four killers escaped and celebrated revenge in front of their houses. Two members of the Sulaymān family were accused four years ago of killing Muhammad Sayyid Muhammad of al-Hadāyil family. Over the past period no reconciliation has been achieved between the two families.
Qina’s security apparatus was on alert. Security forces besieged the village. On April 21, al-Dustūr reported that three of the four culprits were arrested and that they are searching for the fourth.
The two Copts that were killed were buried in the village under a restricted security presence. The victim’s family refused to receive condolences. [In Upper Egyptian tradition, refusing to receive condolences means that the family of the victim will seek revenge themselves.
Al- Dustūr of April 20, 2009 reported on a security source that the conflict between the two families dates back four years when the security apparatus obliged the members of the Coptic family to leave the village out of fear that they would take revenge. The atmosphere was calm after their departure. However, they came back a few days ago to celebrate Easter with their families, which angered the al-Hadāyil family.
Al-Wafd of April 21 reported that about 15 Coptic families were exiled from the village four years ago, following the accidental killing of Muhammad Sa‘īd Muhammad Ibrāhīm in a quarrel on November 6, 2004. Three Coptic men from the Sulaymān family were sentenced to three years in prison. However, they were released on July 23, 2006 by a presidential ruling on the occasion of the Egyptian Revolution day.
Hishām al-Qādī, the Muslim Brotherhood MP for Qūs center in Qina stated that the incident was social and not sectarian in nature.