An Egyptian human rights organization said that an Egyptian Coptic Christian who died while being detained by Libyan Islamists was tortured to death. Ezzat Hakim Attallah was one of over 50 Coptic Christians detained by Libyan authorities last month and charged with proselytizing. Naguib Guebrayel, a Coptic Christian attorney who heads a group called Egyptian Union for Human Rights, told AFP News that Attallah “died after being tortured with other detainees.”
Fox News reported that Atallah, who was among several dozen Egyptian Christians detained since February 25 in Benghazi, had been hospitalized March 6 before he was brought back to his cell and later died, according to family members.
Attallah's brother, Effat Hakim Atallah, said that Attallah had originally been arrested February 13 while working at a mobile phone shop in a Benghazi marketplace. Other Egyptian merchants from surrounding shop stalls were arrested as well, supposedly because they had displayed Christian symbols in their businesses.
Fox News reported that Atallah's wife visited him three days after his arrest “and found him in a state of severe fatigue and with bruises and cuts, according to Effat Hakim Atallah.” At that time, said the brother, Libyan officials had already subjected him to both physical and psychological torture. “According to Atallah's wife,” Fox continued, “he was arrested because his telephone number was found on a telephone of another suspect who had been arrested for possession of Christian books.”
While Attalah's family and attorney insist his death was the result of torture, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said he also suffered from diabetes and a heart ailment, which most likely contributed to his death. Watchdog groups noted that Egyptian Christians who have emigrated to Libya for employment have been subjected to arrest and brutality from Islamist groups over the past several months, and that the Egyptian government has remained largely silent regarding their plight.
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Photo: Coptic cross tatoo