In a rare victory for Egypt's Christian community, the Muslim murderer of a Coptic man killed "for selling alcohol" has been sentenced to death.
World Watch Monitor reports that Adel Soliman, 48, confessed to the murder of Youssef Lamei and said he would kill everyone who sold alcohol if he could. Last week, the Alexandria Criminal Court charged Soliman with first-degree murder and sentenced him to death, reports the Egypt Independent.
As reported, CCTV footage of the murder posted to YouTube shows Lamei seated outside his shop smoking before Soliman calmly approaches him from behind and slashes his throat twice with a knife, killing him.
Tony Youssef, the dead man's son, told WWM he had been inside the shop during the attack, along with his brother Peter, another worker named Emad, and two Muslim friends, Mahmoud Eid and Ahmed Sedky.
He said the attacker shouted "Allahu akbar [Allah is the greatest]!" and "Oh, kafirs [unbelievers]!" during the attack in one of Alexandria's busiest commercial roads, Khaled Bin El-Waleed Street.
"We then chased him to catch him, but he wielded his large knife in our face and quickly got into a car that was waiting for him," he added. "He took less than half a minute, he knew what he was doing, he stood behind my father, quickly pulled the knife from the folds of his clothes, cut the vein of my father's neck two times with his knife to make sure that the vein was cut, and fled."
He said he believed his father had been targeted "because he was a Christian," as many shops in Alexandria sold alcohol. "There is a shop nearby that sells alcohol and is owned by a Muslim man. Why they didn't kill this man as well?"
"My father was a very kind and respected man and everybody loved him; he had no enemies," he added.
While his father had a license from the government to sell alcohol and had run the shop for almost 40 years, he had twice been threatened by conservative clerics.
He said that before the beginning of last Ramadan, the month when Muslims fast during daylight hours, some Salafi sheikhs came to the shop and ordered Lamei to close it for the whole month. His father agreed. "They then asked him not to sell alcohol during the daily five Muslim prayer times; he also obeyed them, to avoid any trouble they might cause," he said.
Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of more than 90 million people, have long complained of discrimination in the predominantly Muslim country. Egypt is 22nd on Open Door USA's World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution. According to reports, sectarian violence against Christians has peaked in the south of the country, but authorities rarely show interest in pursuing justice for persecuted believers.