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Christian killed for selling alcohol as attacks against believers in Egypt escalate

(Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)Egyptian laborers work on the restoration of the Coptic Christian Cathedral complex in the aftermath of a bomb attack, in Cairo, Egypt December 17, 2016.

A Christian shopkeeper was killed outside his store in Alexandria, Egypt last week for selling alcoholic beverages. The attacker reportedly yelled "Allahu akbar [Allah is the greatest]!" before cutting the shopkeeper's throat.

Youssef Lamei, a member of the Coptic Christian community, was smoking a hookah pipe outside the store when a man in a green jacket approached him and cut his throat. The shopkeeper stumbled off the street and eventually died from his injury.

Lamei's son, Tony, told World Watch Monitor that they went after the attacker, but he got into a car that was waiting for him. He believed that his father was targeted because of his Christian faith.

The perpetrator, who was identified as 48-year-old Adel Soliman, was arrested by the police on Wednesday morning while he was hiding in a building near the Al-Montazah police station.

Youssef's brother, Nasef, believed that the attack had been planned and said that the killer had visited the shop several times before the attack.

Nasef told International Christian Concern that Youssef had agreed to close his shop during Ramadan to avoid offending his Muslim neighbors.

Tony noted that his father agreed not to sell alcohol during the daily five Muslim prayer times when he was approached by conservative clerics.

The attack on Lamei came just weeks after the Cairo church bombing that killed at least 27 people.

A recent statement released by the Human Rights Watch noted that the current administration has "failed to protect Coptic Christians from violent attacks and instead enforced 'reconciliation' sessions with their Muslim neighbors that deprive them of their rights and allow attackers to evade justice. In some cases, Christians were obliged to leave their homes, villages or towns."

Human rights activist Ahmed Naguib noted that most of the attacks occur in rural areas far from Cairo and Alexandria.

"It's in these areas where the government uses reconciliation where it should instead punish those responsible for crimes against Christians," he said.

In the province of Minya, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights has documented 77 religiously motivated attacks against Copts in the last five years. Minya, which is located 150 miles south of Cairo, has one of the largest Christian population in the country.

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