Earlier this year, Rani Rafaat, a Christian man, was murdered in his shop in Egypt. The murderer later admitted in a video on YouTube that he killed him because Rani was friends with a Muslim woman on Facebook.
On the day of his death, Rani – a Christian and an agricultural teacher and agricultural shop owner from El Dabaa, a city on the north coast of Egypt – had gone to the nearby Mar Mina monastery with both of his parents.
“The 27 April started as a lovely day,” shares Rani’s father. “On the way back, he got a call from a customer; he needed something from his shop. We went with Rani to his shop, but he told us to go home, he would come home later. But he never came home again. Just after we arrived home, we received the call that he had been murdered.”
Rani’s aunt, who lives above Rani’s store, saw it all happen: “I saw three masked men with automatic weapons; they wore black clothes… They shot at Rani about 22 times. When they fled in their car, I heard them fire shots in the air in celebration, shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ [‘God is the greatest’].”
This wasn’t the first time Rani had been attacked. In December 2021, he was shot in the leg by a fellow citizen of El Dabaa, but he managed to escape before getting killed.
“The perpetrator was found quickly and arrested,” says Rani’s father. “He said he had shot my son because he had heard rumours of him being friends with Muslim women on Facebook and talking with them on Messenger.”
In Islam, a Muslim woman cannot marry a Christian man, and therefore even a friendship between them is frowned upon.
Rani and his family did not receive justice for this attack. The family of the perpetrator pressured them to drop the charges in a so-called reconciliation session, a traditional custom to settle conflicts. “They came to my house and told me that their family member suffered from a mental illness,” Rani’s father remembers. “They also said that they did not believe the rumours about my son befriending Muslim women. For our safety, we decided to drop the charges against the perpetrator.”
Even though Rani deleted his Facebook, switched his mobile phone number, and took a job in another city, the rumours were persistent enough for a group of men to murder him less than six months later.
On 14 May, a man admitted the murder in a YouTube video: “I killed the Christian young man in Dabaa and I swear God that I killed him. And I’m happy that I killed him. I killed him because I heard that he was friends with Muslim women… I never know him at all.”
Rani is buried in the family grave in Alexandria; he leaves behind his parents and two younger siblings. So far, no one has been arrested for his murder.
Please hold Rani’s family in your prayers as they grieve for him.
For Rani’s parents, siblings and wider family, that they will know God close to them, and that God will protect them
That the Egyptian government and law enforcement will step up their protection and care for Egyptian Christians.
For justice; that Rani’s murderer will have a change of heart and turn himself in
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