CAIRO -- Saturday's sentence by an Egyptian court for the April stabbing murder of a Coptic Christian priest was handed down. This attack shocked the Arab world, which is the largest country in the region.
Nehru Tawfiq (60) was convicted at Alexandria criminal court for murdering Arsanious Wadid, 56, and illegally possessing a knife. His lawyers argued that the murder was not intentional. Tawfiq has the right to appeal against the verdict.
Wadid was shot to death in April at an Alexandria seaside promenade.
Investigators discovered that Tawfiq was a radical Islamist. During the first month's court session, he was seen in court shouting "God Is Great" in Arabic. Before judges could stop him from reciting verses from Quran, the holy Muslim book of scriptures, he tried to do so.
This attack was the latest in a series of sectarian violence in Egypt. In recent years, Islamic extremists have targeted Christians repeatedly, particularly after the military ouster in 2013 of late Islamist President Mohammed Morsi (an elected, but divisive, leader), amid mass protests against him.
An alleged supporter for the Islamic State group, an attacker, stabbed to death a Cairo-based Christian doctor aged 82 in September 2017. The following year, he was sentenced to execution.
The country's largest Christian community, the Egyptian Copts, accounts for 10% of its 103 million inhabitants. They complain frequently of discrimination by the Muslim majority.