Two Christians murdered in Egypt for refusing to pay Muslim poll tax

Two Coptic Christian government employees have been shot dead for refusing to pay Jizya, the Muslim poll tax on Christians.

According to a story by Mary Abdelmassih for the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA), Emad Damian, 50, and his cousin Medhat Damian, 37, from the village of Sahel Selim in Assuit Province, were contacted two days before their murder by the leader of a Muslim gang.

He was identified by Watany Coptic Newspaper as Ashraf Ahmed Mohammed Khalajah, a registered criminal from the village.

According to Emad's brother Dr. Samy Damian, Emad was contacted about 9:30 PM by a member of the gang, who demanded 10,000 Egyptian pounds so that he could buy weapons.

He said, "My brother said that he had no problems with anyone, does not require services from anyone, and does not have the money."

In an interview on Al Nahar TV Channel on Sept. 12, Ahmed Fawzi, secretary for the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, said the two murdered Copts, who were members of his political party, reported the matter to the police in Sahel Selim and asked for police protection.

However, AINA reported he said, t he police did nothing.

"A couple of days later the gang surprised the two Copts by going to their home in the morning and showering them with bullets, leaving both dead," Fawzi said. "The police know who the killers are but are doing nothing to arrest them."

The districts of Sahel Selim and Ghanayem are the most dangerous areas in Assuit, and their police stations were heavily shelled by the Muslim Brotherhood on Aug. 14.

Meanwhile, the security situation remains tense in the village of Delga, Deir Mawas, 160 miles south of Cairo in Minya.

AINA said Muslim Brotherhood gangs completely control the village after the ouster of former President Morsi. They target the 20,000 Coptic inhabitants by imposing Jizya on them, allegedly to "safeguard" them from acts of violence and vandalism to their homes and shops.

Despite the arrival last week of a new director of security in the province, the scene is still grim for many.

Rev. Youannas Shawky, pastor of the Monastery of Our Lady and Saint Ebram in Delga, which was completely destroyed on July 3 by pro-Morsi supporters said the practice of collecting Jizya from Copts started after Morsi's departure.

He said it continues to be levied on all Copts in the village without exception, pointing out that the value of the tribute and methods of payment vary from one place to another within the village.

The amount varies from 200-500 Egyptian pounds daily, which are exorbitant amounts to many villagers. Shawky estimated 50 families have left the village so far.

AINA said many Egyptian activists have sounded the alarm on what is happening to Christians.

In an open letter to the Egyptian provisional government, AINA reported prominent journalist Fatma Nahoot said, "Where is the government, the Interior Minister and General al-Sisi on what is happening to the Copts in Minya, including harassment, murder, intimidation, displacement and imposing Jizya on them?"