Egyptian soldier Joseph Reda Helmy was beaten to death on July 19 by his superior officers after they found out that he was a practicing Christian. He had only served in the army for one month.
Morning Star News reports that Helmy was from the village of Kafr Darwish of the Beni Suef Governorate. Helmy had just completed army training and was transferred to his unit when three Egyptian officers brutally murdered him after he showed up for his first day of duty. He had arrived at 2 p.m. and was dead by 8 p.m.
The victim’s father, Reda Helmy, told local media outlets that the army contacted a cousin, Youssef Zarif, to retrieve the body by the Minister of the Interior. When he arrived at the camp, he asked to speak to someone in authority. At first, the cousin was denied any sort of meeting. He finally spoke to an officer who tried to cover-up the murder by telling Zarif that his cousin had been killed by an epileptic seizure.
Zarif found this suspicious as the victim seemed to have perfect health prior to his death. He told Al Karma TV that he found bruises on his body, on his face, stomach, neck, legs, arms, with even worse injuries sustained on his back.
Zarif spoke to the doctor who performed the autopsy. He was told that his cousin’s death was not brought on by natural causes and foul play was involved.
A prosecutor was informed. After reviewing the circumstances surrounding Helmy’s death, he informed the family that he would begin an investigation. Law enforcement officials arrested the three officers who are suspected of being involved. They are in custody as the investigation moves forward.
Zarif and another cousin, Malak Youakim, explained that Helmy was targeted for harassment and murder for simply being a Christian.
A Christian minister in Helmy’s village said, “Many women are wearing black, a sign of mourning for the death of one of their Coptic youth. Many are sharing the graphic pictures of the bruised body of Joseph Reda Helmy, a new draftee doing his military service.”
According to Morning Star News, Joseph Helmy is not the first Christian to be targeted in the ranks of the Egyptian military. Michael Gamel Mansour, 22, was killed by a bullet in February 2016. The Egyptian army claimed that he committed suicide despite no evidence of mental illness. He was scheduled for discharge in July of that same year. Private First Class Bishoy Nataay Boushra, 21, was found dead in his barracks with a blanket around his neck in November 2015. Again, his family was told it was suicide. His body was covered in bruises.
Egypt is a mostly Islamic nation with a small Christian minority living there. Egypt is ranked number 21 in Christian persecution on the World Watch List provided by Open Doors, an organization that tracks those who are persecuted for their faith.