Copts who fled El Arīsh tell harrowing stories of point-blank shootings, robberies and fires. Some of those who fought in the Sinai War in 1973 are now branded "Crusaders" by Daesh. Death threats have appeared on homes, or just the word “Go”. Some refugees sleep in several cars to ensure that some at least survive in case of an attack. Muslims in Ismailia show friendship.
Ismailia (AsiaNews) – In a little more than two days, dozens of Christian families – almost a thousand people, mostly Copts – fled northern Sinai after the Islamic State fulfilled its promise of attacking "Egypt’s infidels". In the past ten days, the group has shot to death, beheaded, or burnt alive seven people. Refugees found shelter in Ismailia, Suez and Cairo among Christians and Muslims, settled in vacant homes, received clothes and utensils, and more. Here are some of their first-hand stories.
They rang at my door at 10 pm. Two hooded men with automatic weapons shot my son and forced their way inside. They had a list with the names of local Christians. They opened the door to the bedroom and shot my 76-year-old husband. They asked for gold but I only had my wedding ring. Then they set fire to the house.
Nabila Fawzi, a Coptic woman who fled El Arīsh
Some Copts in El Arīsh found death threats written on the door of their homes, or sometimes just a single word "Go”. They accuse us of being “Crusaders”. We left everything fearing for the lives of our children who will end up losing a school year.
Hanna Daniel, a woman who fled
Can you imagine that to get our stuff out of the city of El Arīsh we had to get city hall to authorise lorries to leave!
A man who required anonymity
Now we are out into the street. I put my family into three cars, lest they all die at the same time in an explosion or shooting.
Qadri, a Coptic man from El Arīsh
I am a doctor and I volunteer to check on the health of old and sick refugees at your church. I can even get some medicine.
Dr Zeinab, a veiled woman doctor living in Ismailia
I preferred to go to a friend's house, to leave room for a family seeking shelter. I fled with my wife and three children. The smallest, Rami, is used to the sound of gunfire and explosions. But the eldest, Joseph, shakes at every noise. We decided to leave whatever our financial losses.
A father who fled El Arīsh
Terrorists killed my husband in El Arīsh on 9 January. We love this land and my husband defended it against the attacks of Israeli settlers in 1973. We do not deserve this.
Oum Ossama, a widow who fled El Arīsh
We have started to be afraid of our own shadows. We are afraid of being followed and shot in the back. It’s dreadful that Christians are targeted.
A young man who requested anonymity