AL-OUR, Egypt - Thousands of traumatized mourners gathered on Monday at the Coptic church in al-Our village south of Cairo, struggling to come to terms with the fate of compatriots who paid a gruesome price for simply seeking work in Libya.
Thirteen of 21 Egyptians beheaded by Islamic State came from the impoverished dirt lanes of al-Our, violence that prompted the Egyptian military to launch an air strike on Islamic State militant targets in Libya.
Black banners hung on the walls of the Church of the Virgin Mary, proclaiming "Egypt rise up, the blood of your martyrs is calling for you to take revenge." Relatives fainted from grief.
Pictures of the victims were laid out beside images of Jesus. There were no coffins because the bodies of the victims, who were dressed in orange jumpsuits, forced to kneel on a beach and were then beheaded, were not returned home.
Sheikhs from al Azhar, Egypt's main center of Islamic learning which condemned the beheadings, joined the mourning.