03/12/2013, 00.00
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Christian dies in Benghazi: wrath of Egyptian Copts against Libya explodes in Cairo

Hundreds of Copts burning flags and throwing stones at the Libyan Embassy in Cairo. They demand justice for the death of Ezzat Atallah, a Christian who died in a prison in Benghazi. The Islamist government charged with doing nothing for Christian migrants to avoid diplomatic problems.

Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Hundreds of Coptic Christians burned flags and threw stones at the Libyan embassy in Cairo to protest the death of Ezzat Atallah, a Coptic Christian, 45, who died in mysterious circumstances in a Benghazi prison. The protest was organized by the Coptic Youth Front which has announced new protests in the coming days.

Atallah was arrested on February 28 along with five other fellow Christians charged with proselytizing. According to sources in the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, the man was diabetic and had heart problems and died of natural causes, but for the victim's family, the Egyptian authorities want to deliberately cover the case in order to avoid a diplomatic row. For many Christians, the government of Mohamed Morsi would rather connive with extremists in Libya.

The victims brother and wife and claim that he died as a result of having being tortured shortly after his arrest and detention in a shadowy location managed by the militia, before being handed over to the police and moved along with the other fellow Egyptians to a prison in Benghazi for official investigations.

The Attalah case has turned the spotlight on the plight of Christians in Libya, who have become the target of Salafi militias, who control the region of Cyrenaica.

Last week, the extremists jailed over 50 Coptic vendors charged with exposing icons and other religious material in their stalls. The news spread around the world thanks to a video posted on the Internet by activists in Libya, then confiscated by the police. On returning home a few days ago the Copts have reported being beaten and tortured by Islamic extremists. They used acid to remove traditional tattoos depicting Coptic crosses and other Christian symbols from the hands, chest and forehead of the prisoners.


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See also
Benghazi, Coptic Christians denounce torture and attempts to convert them to Islam
Benghazi, 48 Egyptian Christians arrested on religious grounds
Benghazi in revolt against Islamists following deadly attack
Benghazi, the Coptic Church of St. Mark is torched
Libya, Salafists ready to destroy Tripoli’s symbolic statute. The population revolts


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