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Fr. Rafic: Discovery of remains of Coptic martyrs in Libya brings ‘comfort’

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Cairo (AsiaNews) – The recent discovery is “a source of great relief and comfort for the mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters” of Coptic martyrs, especially because at the time of the facts “some had spoken of fake news: the revelation renders justice to families,” says Fr. Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church.

He was commenting to AsiaNews on the recent recovery of the remains of 21 Egyptian, Christian Coptic workers decapitatedby the Islamic State in Libya in February 2015.

The Christians were barbarically killed because of their faith and paid their refusal to convert to Islam with their life. At the time of the massacre, AsiaNews had reported on the “calvary of families”and “mourning and prayer” shared by the Muslim community, also targeted by jihadist barbarians, who had taken advantage of Gaddafi’s fall to take part of the territory.

This is an “important” discovery, emphasizes Fr. Rafic, because “voices were circulating about fake news”. At that time, he added, “there was talk of a counterfeit film of the Islamic State (IS, former Isis) or shot elsewhere, not in Libya.” These rumors “circulated by the Muslim Brotherhood,” he continues, “have increased the despair of families” and hinted at diminishing the value and drama of “decapitated Christians.”

On the morning of October 7, Libyan police recovered the bodies of the 21 Coptic Christians, decapitated by ISIS in 2015, and abandoned in a common pit near the town of Sirte, a former jihadist stronghold in the country. The heads were separated from the bodies, dressed in orange jacket and hands tied behind the back with a plastic thread. According to the latest information the remains will be transferred to Misurata and entrusted to forensic experts.

The Coptic Church in Egypt welcomed the news as a gift from God, because the construction of the Martyrs’ of Libya Church has just been completed at Aour, a village in Egypt, from which 13 of the 21 workers killed by Isis came from. “The church is complete – confirms Fr. Makar Issa, priest of the Orthodox Coptic community of the Virgin Mary – and is ready to receive her martyrs as soon as possible. “

However, according to the spokesman of the Egyptian Catholic Church, the operations of restitution of the corpses will not be simple. “Families – says Fr. Rafic – want to bury the bodeies of their loved ones as soon as possible, but we do not know the exact timing. The government is moving to get repatriation, but the situation in Libya is critical and it is difficult to handle recovery operations. “

The priest refers to the general situation in Egypt which only recently witnessed a series of attacks that also involved the Christian community. “Today – he concludes – there is relative calm and stability. There have been no serious episodes of bloodshed during the last period, but it is equally true that terrorists can always attack at any time. “(DS)

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