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
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.