Death penalty satisfies Copts

Ekram Ibrahim , Sunday 16 Jan 2011

A year after the shootings outside a church in Naga Hammadi which left seven dead, the death sentence handed out to one of the perpetrators is met with approval by Copts

"The death penalty – finally."

That was the general comment made by many Copts over the death sentence given to Mohamed El-Kamouny for the killing of six Copts and a Muslim guard. El-Kamouny and two others opened fire on worshippers leaving church in the Upper Egyptian town of Naga Hammadi following Coptic Christmas mass on 6 January, 2010.  They were arrested two days after the attack.

Qena's Emergency State Security Court said that Hussein's two accomplices, Kurashi Abu Haggag and Hindawi Muhammed Sayyid, who were charged with aiding in the murder and possession of weapons, would be sentenced on February 20.

The ruling has "satisfied" Egypt's Copts after the trial has dragged on for over a year. The ruling comes two weeks after the bombing of the Two Saints Church in Alexandria.

"This ruling is the application of both God's justice and the court's," said Bishop Armia, secretary of Pope Shenouda III, Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Coptic Bishop Anba Kirolos of Naga Hammadi has also welcomed the ruling saying Copts were "satisfied."

"I am not thrilled but perhaps satisfied, since it makes me wonder whether the Alexandria attack prompted such a verdict," Dina Samir, a Coptic freelance writer told Ahram Online.

On New Year's Eve of 2011, a bomb exploded in front the Two Saints Church killing 23 and injuring 90. The actual perpetrator has not yet been identified, while government officials insist it was an act of terrorism originating outside Egypt.

This is the first death sentence handed out for a case of sectarian violence in Egypt since 1971. "This is a harsh ruling that could prevent much further sectarian violence within Egypt," Ashraf Kirolos, a Coptic lawyer told Ahram Online.

Furthermore, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), a human rights organization that was following the trial, had no legal concerns.  "While the court ruling took so much time, we have no concerns on the legal process," Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher at EIPR told Ahram Online.

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