Egypt: Copt killed in Alexandria ‘for selling alcohol,’ says son


Date:                                            January 5, 2017


By World Watch Monitor
Jan. 5, 2017

Youssef Lamei, right, with his son, Tony.
Youssef Lamei, right, with his son, Tony.

Egyptian police have arrested a man after a Coptic Christian who ran an off-licence was murdered in his shop.

Adel Soliman, 48, was arrested by police in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria on Wednesday morning (4 Jan) while hiding in a building near Al-Montazah police station in the east of the city, according to Al-Ahram news website.

Investigators said they were trying to determine the motive behind the killing of Youssef Lamei, which took place in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Footage of the attack quickly went viral. It shows a man seated outside the shop smoking before another man calmly approaches him from behind and slashes his throat twice with a knife.

Mr. Lamei died at the scene.  

Tony Youssef, the dead man’s son, told World Watch Monitor 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. 

A still image of the attack taken from a video posted on YouTube.
A still image of the attack taken from a video posted on YouTube.

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.

Mr. Youssef, a lawyer, said he believed his father’s murder was carried out by a “professional” killer. “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”. He said 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.

Mr. Youssef said his father had a licence from the government to sell alcohol and had run the shop for almost 40 years.

However, he said his father 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 Mr. 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.

While World Watch Monitor has reported on many attacks on Christians in Egypt over the past year, these usually take place in Upper Egypt, to the south of the country. An attack such as this in Egypt’s second, cosmopolitan city of Alexandria, so soon after the suicide bomb on a chapel close to the Coptic Cathedral of Cairo, has alarmed many Copts once again.

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