A funeral was held Wednesday for Ezzat Hakim Atallah who died while in custody in Libya. Atallah died after being tortured by Libyan authorities. The service was held at the Evangelical church in Assiut, Egypt. Atallah was 45.
Atallah was a Coptic Christian accused of proselytizing in Libya and was one of over 50 Coptic Christians detained by Libyan authorities last month. Egypt’s Coptic community has been enraged and a protest was held outside the Libyan embassy in Cairo on Monday.
Atallah had health issues, including diabetes and heart problems, but it is believed he died as a result of ten days of torture. Atallah’s wife was able to visit him three days after he was arrested in February. She found him fatigued and with multiple bruises and cuts. Atallah again contacted his wife and sister three days before he died. He told them of the treatment he received while in custody. Atallah’s wife said, “He was arrested because his telephone number was found on a telephone of another suspect who had been arrested for possession of Christian books.” It is believed that Atallah endured repeated electrical shock torture.
Magdy Saber, the Vice Chairman of the Maspero Youth Union has described Atallah as a martyr.
Coptic Solidarity, a Washington, D.C. advocacy group said that it “condemns in the strongest terms the Egyptian authorities, especially the foreign minister, the ambassador in Libya and the consul in Benghazi, for their failure to defend their fellow citizens.”
Atallah is survived by his wife, Ragaa Abdallah, a 15-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter.
A Protestant minister working with Christians in Libya said “Now in Libya they don’t like Christians, they don’t tolerate them. They know there are many Muslims that are becoming Christians. And because of it, all Christian workers are in danger.”