The Islamic State (IS) released photos of 21 abducted Coptic Egyptians in Libya wearing orange jumpsuits, handcuffed, blindfolded, and driven by masked men along a beach.
13 of the hostages were kidnapped in Tripoli in early January, while seven others were kidnapped a week earlier in Sirte, all due to sectarian reasons. Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Badr Abdel Aty said that the situation of the hostages is very complex.
IS released the photos accompanied by an article on the abduction of the Coptic hostages, in the 7th issue of its online publication “Dabiq.” The militant group said that its arm in Libya managed to kidnap “the Coptic crusades of Egypt” in revenge for persecuted female Muslims.
The Islamist group is referring to two Coptic women, Kamilia Shehata and Wafaa Qoustantine, who allegedly converted to Islam and were forced by the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church to go back to Christianity. IS also mentioned the targeting of a Catholic Church in Baghdad, which the group described as an attempt for retribution for what the Coptic Church is allegedly doing in Egypt.
The group is targeting Copts in a statement to the Church that “the price of Muslim blood is costly, and accordingly, if the church persecutes any Muslim in Egypt, [the Pope] will be directly responsible for every single Christian killed anywhere in the world when the Islamic State seeks its just revenge.”
Abdel Aty stated that the diplomatic interference of the ministry is limited, as the Libyan government has lost control over several regions within the country.
He added that the case is a priority for the Egyptian government. He cited the safe return of the recently kidnapped fisherman, adding that the ministry is working on ensuring that all those kidnapped are brought back safely.
Meetings are being held daily to follow up on the latest developments, according to the spokesperson, who said that the ministry is in daily contact with the heads of Libyan tribes and government officials regarding the matter.
But the families of the kidnapped say that their relatives have been abandoned, and that they have only received promises from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the hostages will be freed, without any real information on their abduction.