CAIRO: The Libyan branch of the Islamic State group released Sunday evening a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who were kidnapped by them in early January.
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi announced a seven-day mourning period , and held an urgent meeting with the National Defense Council, said presidential spokesperson Alaa Youssef in a statement Sunday evening.
Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab held also an urgent meeting with the concerned minister over the killing of the Copts.
The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria condemned the murders, stating “there will not be rest until the perpetrators get punishment for this heinous crime, and we are confident in the role of the state in all its institutions.”
“Such a barbaric act is not linked with any religion nor norm of humanity; it indicates that diseased hearts spread the corruption in the earth,” stated Al-Azhar.
The IS group issued Thursday the seventh edition of its English-language magazine of Dabiq showing photos of 21 Egyptian Copts allegedly kidnapped in Libya’s city of Sirte in Jan. 2015. The photos show the Egyptian nationals in orange suits and being handcuffed by IS’s masked militants.
According to the magazine, the Copts were kidnapped “in revenge” for an Egyptian woman who was allegedly tortured in an Egyptian churches over converting to Islam.
“If his church persecuted any Muslimah in Egypt, he (Late Egyptian Pope Shenouda III was the 117th Pope of Alexandria & Patriarch of the See of St. Mark) would be directly responsible for every single Christian killed anywhere in the world when the Islamic State sought its just revenge… And the deaths did not begin until after the crusaders had expressed their arrogance and refusal to execute the righteous demands of the mujahidin,” the magazine reported.
During the reign of former President Hosni Mubarak, there were reports on Islamic website news claiming that Christian women, like Kamilia Shehata and Wafaa Constantine, who converted to Islam were allegedly tortured in a church for being Muslims.
A blast targeted a church in Baghdad following the report of such claims in 2010 in which hundreds of people were killed. Priest Stephanos Shehata of of Samalout Coptic Orthodox Diocese in Minya (Upper Egypt) told the Dostor newspaper Friday that IS militants asked for the release and appearance of those two women and for their escort to to Minya in exchange for releasing the 21 kidnapped Copts.
WARNING: The video below is unedited as uploaded by IS and portrays extremely graphic violence. Viewer discretion is advised.