Egyptian Christians are the terror group’s “favorite prey,” an ISIS clip said.
An Islamic State (ISIS) group affiliate in Egypt released a video Monday showing the suicide bomber who killed nearly 30 people when he attacked a packed Cairo church in December and vowing more attacks on the country’s Christians.
A narrator says in the 20-minute video that the Egyptian Christians are the terror group’s “favorite prey.”
The video shows footage of Egypt’s Coptic Christian Pope, Christian businessmen, judges and priests who either speak of the need to protect the minority or use derogatory terms to refer to Egypt’s Muslim majority.
The narrator says Christians were no longer “dhimmis,” a reference to non-Muslims subjugated by Muslim rule who enjoy a degree of protection but are considered second-class citizens. Instead, the group describes the Christians as “infidels” who are empowering the West against Muslim nations.
“God gave orders to kill every infidel,” one of the terrorists carrying an AK-47 assault rifle says in the video.
Egypt’s Coptic Christians, who make up around 10 percent of the population, have always been a favorite target of Islamic terrorists. Attacks on churches by Muslim mobs increased since the 2013 military overthrow of an Islamist president.
Christians overwhelmingly supported the army chief-turned-president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, and Islamists have used such support as a pretext to increase attacks against them.
“Oh worshippers of the cross … the soldiers of the state are watching you,” a masked terrorist identified as Abu Zubair al-Masri says.
Mounting Attacks Against Christians
The video carries the logo “Egypt” instead of the regular “Wilayat Sinai” or the state of Sinai. Wilayat Sinai, the name of the ISIS branch in Sinai, has claimed responsibility for dozens of suicide bombings and attacks, mainly targeting security forces and military across the country, but primarily in the Sinai Peninsula, where the army has been leading an anti-terrorism operation for years.
The ISIS message comes at a time when attacks on Coptic Christians have escalated in Sinai. In the past month, at least three Christians were gunned down in separate drive-by shooting attacks in the city of el-Arish.
El-Sissi has repeatedly assured Egypt’s Christians of his goodwill toward them; he has visited the seat of the Coptic Orthodox church in Cairo on major holidays. But many in the ancient community complain that very little has changed in their lives since the Egyptian leader took office in 2014, especially in rural areas, where Muslims frequently attack Christian homes and businesses over a range of issues, including the construction or restoration of churches, land disputes or sexual affairs between members of each community.