Hundreds attended a funeral last Friday in Minya, a city in eastern Egypt, following a deadly ambush where radical Islamic terrorists ambushed a group of Christians leaving a monastery on a microbus.
Six Coptic Christians were killed, according to Morning Star News. Two children, a fifteen-year-old boy and a twelve-year-old girl were among the casualties of the attack near the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor.
A separate funeral was held in Sohag for a seventh victim, Asaad Farouk LabibGhaly, an Anglican who was attending the monastery. His wife and four kids were among the mourners.
The BBC reports that an Egyptian-based cell of the terrorist organization Islamic State took responsibility for the murders, claiming that it was retaliation for the imprisonment of “our chaste sisters.” No clarification was given.
Government officials claimed that one of the routes to the monastery had been closed due to threats from radical Muslims, forcing the bus to take the alternative road where it was ambushed along with two other buses.
Priest of Mar Girgis Church Rad Noseer Mitri said at the funeral. “We would like to tell them [the attackers] that we still love them despite what happened. We have a question though, why are you doing this to us? We do not commit malice towards anyone,” he said. “We serve our church and nation in complete honesty. We play no role in terrorism or hate. We only play a role in serving our church and country like any other people all around the world.”
Bishop Makarios of Minya said in his remarks, “There is a mix of sadness and pain; sadness as these painful events are being repeated and pain because Copts are part of this homeland and part of its fabric.”
He added that the Coptic Christians would “not forget the promises of officials, including the president of the republic, that the criminals will be punished.”
The Egyptian government provided security for the funeral, but as BBC News reports, the guards were met with boos from the attendees.
Michel, who attended the funeral to commemorate a neighbor killed in the attack, expressed his concern for the safety of the Christian community.
“What do these terrorists want? Do they want us to hate Muslims?” he asked. “Should I carry a gun with me when I go to pray or when I’m at home? Because I could die if I go to church.”
According to ABC News, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi attended the service, stating, “I mourn with great sorrow the victims who fell today at the traitorous hands that seek to undermine the nation’s fabric.”
“We are determined to fight terrorism and catch the culprits,” he added.
President al-Sisi also held a moment of silence for the victims identified by the Coptic Orthodox Church as Kamal Yousef Shehata, Reda Yousef Shehata, Nady Yousef Shehata, Bishoy Reda Yousef Shehata, Maria Kamal Yousef Shehata and Bousy Milad Yousef Shehata.
On Sunday, the government announced that they had engaged in a firefight with the IS cell believed to be responsible for Friday’s ambush, killing nineteen of the terrorists.