Sophia Jones from the Huffington Post has interviewed the families of some of the 21 Coptic martyrs and posted this moving glimpse into the lives they lived:
Death is everywhere in Al Aour. When a video surfaced late Sunday showing Islamic State fighters beheading 21 men in Libya, it seemed no family here was spared. Thirteen of the victims hailed from this dusty Egyptian town, roughly three hours south of Cairo.
The men were laborers, gone for months on end, who sent home hard-earned money to feed entire families. They left their impoverished home in Egypt to work in Libya for a better future, despite the dangers. What they found instead was a militant group hell-bent on humiliating and harming them because they were Christian. While most of the people killed by the Islamic State have been Muslim, the group’s recent propaganda video made a point to threaten Christianity as a religion. The fact that the 21 men were Egyptian made them even more sought-out targets: citizens of a country cracking down on Islamists both within its own borders and inside Libya.
On Jan. 3 at around 2:30 a.m. in the coastal Libyan city of Sirte, masked gunmen began knocking on doors, according to survivors. They were looking for Christians marked with traditional tattoos on their hands that identified them as Copts, an ancient Christian sect in Egypt. Some men were pulled from their beds at gunpoint. Others hid and prayed, only to later see their captured friends and family members decapitated in a widely circulated and highly produced Islamic State video.
But in this tight-knit village, these men will not be remembered for their brutal murders. They are remembered as beloved husbands, sons, brothers, cousins and friends. In death, their lives are celebrated.