CAIRO: A Swiss woman who has visited Egypt more than 40 times in the past two decades, has collected 7,000 Swiss Francs ($7,090) as a charitable donation from her friends and neighbors in Switzerland for the families of the 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians who were murdered last year by the Islamic State (IS) militants in Libya.
“The idea of launching a fund raising campaign to support the victims’ relatives came to my mind after I had a discussion with a priest at the Roman Catholic Church in Upper Egypt’s governorate of Asyut. When I went back to Switzerland and discussed the issue with my neighbors and friends, they seemed very enthusiastic,” the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Cairo Post reporter who accompanied her during a visit to Al Aour Sunday.
The donor met with widows, children and parents of 13 young men who were among the 20 slain Copts, at the Virgin Mary Church in their birthplace of Al Aour village in Upper Egypt’s governorate of Minya.
The visit coincided with the first anniversary of the release of a video Feb. 15, 2015, showing the brutal beheading of the captives by members of the Islamic State in Libya on a beach near Libya’s city of Sirte.
The video showed the victims in orange jumpsuits, forced to kneel with a masked, knife-wielding militant standing behind each.
The donation was handed over to the grieving families of the victims in presence of the Coptic Church’s priest and other clergymen. The church is preparing for a mass, scheduled to take place Tuesday, to mourn the victims.
“We can not thank you enough for helping and supporting us. We feel great after we knew you came all the way from Switzerland to share these moments with us,” a young widow of a 25-year-old victim said to the donor.
The benefactor told The Cairo Post that during her last trip to Egypt in April 2015, she had visited Al Aour village to extend her condolences to the family members of the victims.
The victims, most of whom are in their 20s, had traveled to Libya seeking work.
Hours after the video was released, Egyptian warplanes struck IS group targets in their main stronghold in Libya’s Derna. In a show of support, President Abdel Fatah al Sisi visited the pope of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Christian Church Tawadros II at the main cathedral in Cairo, while former Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab visited Al Aour and met with the families.