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Christian Girls Being Snatched By Islamist Traffickers

ICC Note:
The recent political developments in Egypt have put images of large clashes between crowds and security forces on the front pages. There are also other more subtle security issues that affect the everyday lives of Egypt’s Christian community. Kidnapping of Christian girls is a major issue of concern. According to some experts the number of abductions was as many 800 just last year. Most of these cases go unsolved and in many instances uninvestigated.

By Gary Lane

7/19/2013 Egypt (AINA) - The recent upheaval in Egypt once again brings to the forefront the plight of the country's Christians who have come under increased attack from Islamists since the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi.

Now they're hoping and praying Egypt's next government will do a better job of protecting them from attacks and the trafficking of Christian girls.

Funerals like the recent one at St. Mina Church in North Sinai have become all too familiar for Egyptian Christians. Friends and family recently paid final respects to Father Mina Aboud, a beloved Coptic priest. Islamist gunmen opened fire on Mina July 6 while he drove his car after shopping in the northern Sinai town of el Arish.

Father Mina's murder was no surprise to Egypt's Christians because they are frequent targets of attack during times of political instability. Christians have struggled for years--not only to protect their churches, homes and businesses, but also their daughters.

One of the challenges facing Christian families, particularly in Upper Egypt, is the kidnapping of young Christian girls. It generally happens when the girls enter their teen years.

To help avoid this tragedy, some families re-locate to Christian villages. But with that comes a whole new set of challenges.

Manel moved her family from a Muslim village to a Christian one near el Minya because she wanted to protect her oldest daughter Maryam from abduction and forced conversion. She made the decision after noticing some Muslim girls and boys attempting to lure Maryam away from her family and faith.

"The girls used to tell Maryam, 'Come with us, we will give you a some money, you are having a hard life.' The young boys were sending the young girls to do this," Manel explained. "I feared they would kidnap her and then demand a lot of money to return her, or they would return her and she wouldn't be in the same way as they took her." Now residing as strangers in a new town, Manel's husband has difficulty finding work.

"I'm much happier now because it is safe for my daughters here, but the working opportunities for my husband are little because few people know my husband," she said.

Maryam's family borrowed money to buy food and make their house payment. They prayed God would provide help.

She and her family are not alone. Last year, a Helsinki Commission hearing revealed the number of disappearances and abduction of Christian girls is increasing. Human trafficking expert Michel Clark told of more than 800 cases.

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