Egyptian Christians wait for news of loved ones kidnapped by Isil

Coptic Christian men whose relatives were abducted in Libya hold their photos in front of the foreign ministry in Cairo, Egypt Photo: Hassan Ammar/AP

It was the early hours phone call that would save his life. As militants went from house to house, pulling Christians from their rooms, Youssef Zekry was woken suddenly.

That was January 4. Mr Zekry had just witnessed – and narrowly escaped – one of the most targeted acts of violence against Christians since the start of the Arab Spring, and the worst to befall them in Libya since it was liberated from the dictatorship of Col Muammar Gaddafi.

That liberation came thanks to an alliance including secular activists, Islamist fighters, and the air forces of the western world. It is an alliance that has now fractured, a breach that is plunging the country into chaos.

The victims are ordinary Libyan people, who have been assassinated, shelled, and killed in the cross-fire of the Arab world’s latest civil war. But on this occasion, it was Egyptians, Coptic Christians trying to escape poverty back home and find work in their supposedly oil-rich neighbour, who were targeted.

“They knew who they wanted, and they asked for them by name,” said Mr Zekry, now back in his home village of Al-Our in central Egypt. “They had a list with all our names on it”…