Libyan parliament confirmed Saturday the death of 21 kidnapped Egyptian Coptic Christian workers in Libya following photos released by an English publication affiliated with the ‘Islamic State’, called Dabeq, claiming their execution.
The Libyan legislative body said that the workers were killed by the self-proclaimed ‘Islamic State’ group, often referred to as ISIS, in the city of Sirte, according to state newspaper Al-Ahram.
The Egyptian government has asserted it “will spare no effort for the kidnapped”, but has not confirmed the execution of 21 kidnapped Egyptian Coptic workers in Libya by ‘Islamic State’.
Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb met with the families of kidnapped workers on Friday. The meeting came following ‘Islamic State’ published photographs of 21 abducted Copts in Libya in red execution suits, guarded by ‘Islamic State’ personnel in black clothes and swords.
20 Coptic Christian Egyptians were kidnapped at the beginning of the year in the city of Sirte on the north coast of Libya. A jihadi website circulated photos in mid-January of kidnapped Christians, also allegedly released by ‘Islamic State’ in Libya.
The Egyptian presidency stated Thursday, following the execution allegations, that it would follow up on the incident.
Mehleb told the victims’ families the government is maintaining intensive communications to clarify the situation of the kidnapped Egyptians. He added that all governmental ministries and agencies are on alert, and permanently convene, and are exerting maximum efforts.
“The government renews its commitment to spare no efforts to protect its sons and defend their rights, despite hardships and dangerous complications in Libya,” he added.
The first photos published in January, attributed to the ‘Islamic State’ in Tripoli, described the kidnapped as “captive crusaders”.
It is widely accepted that the kidnapping occurred due to their faith, whilst comments from the US Secretary of State’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “It is more about Libya than it is about Egypt. This happened, reportedly, in Libya.”
She added that the kidnapping incident “underscores the need for the international community to continue to strongly support the efforts of the United Nations. And it really, again, reminds us of how volatile the situation is there on the ground”.
Egypt’s Copts Coalition issued a statement Friday calling on President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and the foreign ministry to implement the state’s protective role for its citizens abroad. The coalition also called on the two parties to communicate with the captors for the safety of the kidnapped.
Fady Youssef, the coalition’s coordinator, told Daily News Egypt that “ISIS threatening to behead the kidnapped Egyptians is a result of the Salafis inciting against Christians in Egypt”.
He referred to two cases, which have seen wide protests staged by Salafis and radical Islamists calling for freedom of two women allegedly “kidnapped” by the Church. These include Kamilia Shehata, a wife of a Coptic preacher who allegedly converted to Islam but was hidden afterwards by the Coptic Church. He also referred to Wafaa Constantine, also a Christian who allegedly converted to Islam, and was then taken to a solitary residence in one of the church’s monasteries.
The latest photos allegedly released by ‘Islamic State’ of the kidnapped Egyptians were attached with a sentence that says “Revenge for the Muslimat [Muslim women] persecuted by the Coptic crusaders of Egypt”.
The coalition said it has sent calls for aid to the UN and its Security Council and other international organisations, pleading for the “international conscience” to intervene to save “the innocents”.