“If I see any one from ISIS, I would hug him. They are the reason my brother is in heaven.” These were the words of Marianne, Bishoy Adly’s sister, shortly after he had been killed by ISIS on May 26, 2017.
Twenty-nine Christians were killed that day when their three vehicles, on the way to the St. Samuel the Confessor Monastery, were stopped and attacked. The attack took place a few kilometers before the monastery.
Jonathan Rashad visited two villages in Minya including the village of Nazlet Hana, which lost seven people in the attack, including two children and the village of Deir al-Garnos, which lost seven of its finest men who were all farmers and laborers that were set to do some work at the monastery. Deir al-Garnos is entirely populated by Christians; at least 20,000 live in the village.
Amidst the agony and pain, many relatives found relief and happiness that their loved ones have become “martyrs.”
ISIS has killed seventy-five Christians in Egypt since the beginning of the year, including the two recent bombings at St. George’s Cathedral and St. Mark’s Cathedral that left forty-six dead. For more of Rashad’s photography, visit his website here.
“Three days before the attack, Bishoy was talking with his friends about martyrdom and martyrs. It is like he knew he was going to be one,” said his father.
Bishoy’s mother recalling her son’s death: “A few kilometers before the monastery, our bus stopped suddenly and live rounds were shot from outside, targeting our vehicle. I saw the bullets flying inside. I looked through the window, and I saw masked men in army outfits. The shooting was nonstop, and many were getting shot inside. Right away, Bishoy covered his 7-year-old sister and me under his arms. Amidst the screams, as we were lying down, we watched our relatives and friends being sprayed by the bullets of the terrorists. When one of us opened the door, he was shot in the head, and one masked ISIS man got in. I do not know what he looked like. He was masked. But I remember his wide green eyes. The masked man asked all the women for their money and jewelry. In the meantime, he shot two teenage girls between their legs. The masked man left the bus, and we thought that they were all gone, until he came back again and started pointing his rifle at a 6-month-old girl. That was the moment Bishoy stood up and screamed, trying to protect the baby. The terrorist called him “kafir” [infidel] and shot him in the head and throat. Then he fell on my lap.”
“Why must a 7-year-old girl watch her brother being slaughtered? Why?” asked Bishoy’s mother.
“My dad never refused to go to the monastery, even when he had important work at the farm. Christianity was his priority,” said Ishak, 20 (right), son of Eid.
“I was working in a farm field when I got the phone call. Someone called me and informed me that my son had been killed by terrorists in the convoy. I fainted when I heard this. I went to the scene of the attack and found no one. Then I went to the hospital to find the bodies. It was a hard shock and I could not see or hear anything,” said Hany’s 63-year-old father.
“May God forgive ISIS. We will never leave our faith. We never left Jesus,” said Nadia, 45, wife of Lamy.
“On the way to the monastery, someone holding a rifle stopped our vehicle. We saw that the other vehicle ahead of us was shot. When my dad got out of the car, he got a bullet in the head. Then two masked men came and started shooting all the men in the vehicle, except my brother and myself. They ran away, chanting ‘Allah Akbar.’ Before they ran away, one masked man pointed the rifle at me. Then his comrade asked him not to shoot me,” said Marco.
“He had breakfast with me before he left and gave me some money to spend while he was away. He was going to work at the monastery to earn money for my eye operation,” said Nawal, wife of 32-year-old slain laborer Nasef Mamdouh Ayad.
“ISIS did him a favor. Now he is in heaven,” said Nasef’s wife.