In a viral clip from Middle Eastern Christian television network SAT-7, a man identified as the brother of two Egyptians beheaded by ISIS has an astonishing message for the terrorists.
Calling into the program and speaking with host Fayez Maher, the man says his name is Beshir Kamel, brother to the Coptic beheading victims Bishoy, 25, and Samuel Kamel, 23. One of the first things he says is that “ISIS helped us strengthen our faith” by not editing the victims’ appeals to Jesus Christ out of the infamous video. (RELATED: Who Were ISIS’ Egyptian Christian Victims?)
To the host’s amazement, he goes on to say that his home village of Al-Aor is “happy” to have “so many from our village die as martyrs.” Citing the Gospel’s injunction to “love our enemies and bless those who curse us,” he says his mother told him she would invite ISIS fighters into her home and “ask God to open their eyes” if she met them on the street.
He then prays for the jihadis, asking God to help them “quit their ignorance and the wrong teachings that they were taught.”
Copts in Egypt, together with other Christian communities in the Arab world, have had complicated relations with surrounding societies for centuries. Despite working to integrate themselves with their Muslim neighbors, they often face systemic discrimination and neglect at the hands of government and local extremists alike. Recent threats by terrorists have led many Arab countries’ centuries-old Christian populations to dramatically decline, choosing the safety of expatriation to Europe and the Americas. (RELATED: Punk Rocker Rescues Ancient Christian Music)
SAT-7 is an nondenominational Christian satellite network that broadcasts in Arabic, Turkish and Persian. It is supported by a number of churches in the region, and has strict guidelines for “presenting the core messages of Christianity that all churches agree upon,” and avoiding criticism of other faiths, including Islam. In this way, it avoids some of the controversies that can face Christian media in the Middle East, such as accusations of “sheep-stealing” by foreign Protestants from the local varieties of Orthodox and Catholic Christianity.
The original video of the Arabic broadcast, posted to Facebook by SAT-7, has attracted over 100,000 views. In recent days, an English-subtitled version has begun to spread among Christians in the West.
The Huffington Post has profiled a number of the beheading victims and their families, who were disproportionately working-class and found themselves migrating to Libya in pursuit of construction jobs and other menial labor.
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