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Police investigate death of Coptic bishop

Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great, in Wadi El Natrun, Beheira, where Bishop Epiphanius was found dead (Wikimedia Commons)

An Egyptian Coptic bishop was found dead inside his monastery on Sunday.

According to local media reports, Bishop Epiphanius, head of the Anba Makar Monastery in Beheira, northwest of Cairo, was found with injuries indicating that he had been a victim of violence.

Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church said that authorities were investigating the bishop’s death in what it described as “strange circumstances”.

Security officials, speaking to Arab News on condition of anonymity, said Bishop Epiphanius had suffered head and back injuries.

Archbishop Angaelos, Archbishop of London for the Coptic Orthodox Church, paid his respects to Bishop Epiphanius in a tweet earlier today: “Mourning the tragic death of our brother and friend… A kind and gentle man, and a faithful shepherd and theologian… Praying repose for his spirit and comfort for his monastic community.”

Egypt’s Copts constitute about 10 per cent of the population, and have been targets of sectarian violence.

According to Open Doors, 128 Christians were killed in Egypt for their faith last year, and more than 200 were driven out of their homes. The charity’s UK CEO, Lisa Pearce, said in a statement in January that Christians in the country faced “unprecedented levels of persecution and suppression”. Egypt is home to about half the Christians in the Middle East.