More than a year after a brutal attack on Egyptian Christian Ayman Anwar Metry, a judge in Qena has exonerated the group of Salafi Muslim men who cut off his ear and beat him nearly to death. The April 22 decision came after Metry succumbed to intense pressure to drop the charges during a “reconciliation meeting,” according to his attorney Asphoure Wahieb Hekouky. Since the attack on March 20, 2011, local authorities have done nothing to stop the threats, intimidation and violent attacks by Metry’s assailants who demanded that he drop all charges against them.
Metry’s nightmare began when he was lured into the burnt out shell of an apartment he rented out and accosted by a group of around 20 Salafi Muslims accusing him of an affair with a Muslim woman. Despite being intensely beaten and cut all over his body, the married father of three maintained his innocence. The woman accused of adultery with Metry was brought into the room and also denied the charges. After they had beaten her, the Salafist began cutting open the back of Metry’s neck and told her they would kill him unless she confessed. The woman admitted to having some kind of affair with him. Metry continued to deny their claims and refused to say the Shahada, the Islamic creed for conversion. The further enraged Salafists then cutting off his left ear. The Christian reported that “If you saw how I looked then … My shirt, if you squeezed it, it dripped an unbelievable amount of blood. With all the blood that was on the floor, it looked like there was a sheep slaughtered there. They thought that I was dead, so then they called the police and said, ‘We took our sharia [Islamic law] rights, now you come and take your civil rights from him.’”
After both Metry and the woman were treated at the hospital, they were taken into police custody. The woman told police that there was nothing between them and that she had been forced to say so by the Salafists. Her attackers later found her and beat her again for telling the truth, breaking her fingers and threatening her family if she did not change her statement. The authorities did not arrest anyone in connection with her attack.
According to Compass Direct News, in the year since the attack, Metry and his family have been harried by attacks from his Salafi Muslim assailants, seeking to intimidate him into dropping the charges. Pleas for help from the police fell on deaf ears as the Salafists shot at his family members, threatened to kidnap his sisters and surrounded his house threatening to burn it down. The final straw, however, came from Bishop Sharoubeem, the Coptic Orthodox bishop of Qena. “He asked me to drop the case, but I insisted on not dropping the case at all. I insisted on getting my rights back,” Metry reports “But when a bishop comes and asks you to drop the case, what else could you do other than following his advice? He told me that they might try and attack or burn the local church if I didn’t drop the case.”
In addition to the physical toll the ordeal has taken on Metry who required 35 stitches and two reconstructive surgeries to patch up the place his left ear once occupied, the believer’s entire family has suffered continual emotional trauma since the attack. His wife, Thanaa Yakoub Gerges, expressed concern for toll it has taken, especially on the couple’s three children. “We were living well, the children and us, but after what happened emotionally we are below zero,” she said. “It made us hate the house, the city and the whole country. Imagine when you lose your reputation and can’t move. We were destroyed gradually, this happened more than a year ago, and the children are being destroyed gradually. I am willing to die for Christ, but these are my children who are being attacked.”
In the midst of this ordeal, Ayman Anwar Metry shared with Compass Direct News that God has still been strengthening him. “I am not saying this to puff up my spirit, but at that moment when they were attacking me, I couldn’t believe the faith that was in me. I couldn’t believe that I actually had this faith, it was a testimony – I won, I didn’t lose,” he said. “They tried everything to convert me to Islam, but I didn’t care. I said they could do anything they wanted to me, I wouldn’t convert.”
Lord Jesus, we know that You weep with those who weep and are very near to the oppressed. Please comfort and strengthen by Your Spirit Ayman Anwar Metry and his entire family as they face not only continued harassment from the Salafi Muslims, but also the government’s refusal to act on their behalf. Go forth as Jehovah Nissi, the Lord our banner, on behalf of Your child and bring him through this situation as more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus! We ask too that Metry’s attitude, courage and faithfulness become a powerful testimony to his Muslim neighbors and to his attackers. What the Salafists meant for evil, please work for good in bringing many to salvation! As persecution intensifies during this troubled transition time in Egypt, empower Your church to remain faithful, and bring about a great revival among the Muslims of that country.