The Assyrian International News Agency brings us the latest report on the kidnapping of Christian girls in Egypt. ICC has long been involved in researching similar cases and aiding kidnapped girls and their families. For more information, click the Girl Abducted tab on the top of the page.
Egyptian Muslim Ring Uses Sexual Coercion to Convert Christian Girls
By Mary Abdelmassih
7/13/2011 Egypt (AINA) – The number of Christian girls abducted and coerced into converting to Islam since the Egyptian “January 25 Revolution” has skyrocketed, according to Father Filopateer Gamil of St. Mary’s Church in Giza. “More than two to three girls disappear everyday in Giza alone,” he said. “The cases that are brought to public attention are few compared to what the numbers actually are.”
Many Christians blame the military council for not intervening to put an end to this problem, which has escalated after the Revolution because of the “emergence of Muslim Salafists,” says activist Mark Ebeid, “who believe strongly that converting a Christian Infidel is in some ways like earning a ticket to paradise — not to mention the earthly remuneration they get from the Saudis.”
Jackline Ibrahim Fakhry, 17, disappeared from a town on the outskirts of Cairo, prompting her parents to stage a sit-in until her appearance. They accused 31-year old Muslim Shokry Abdel-Fatah, who used to take lessons with her mother (a teacher) of kidnapping her. After she returned, Shokry said in a television interview that he has loved her since she was nine years old. He brought her to Alexandria where she met many sheikhs to convert, but she refused.
Nancy (14) and her cousin Christine (16) Fathy disappeared from their town in Upper Egypt. Their parents staged a sit-in in Minya until their children surfaced and accused two Muslim brothers, in their late twenties, of being behind their disappearance. The two teens appeared in Cairo, wearing burkas and claiming they had converted to Islam, which is illegal before the age of 18. Instead of being handed over to their parents, they are now in a state care home pending investigations and until they and their parents have reconciled. The two men accused of their abduction have been discharged by the court.
This issue has been ongoing for over four decades. Coptic Pope Shenouda III warned against this phenomenon back in 1976, saying “There is a practice to convert Coptic girls to embrace Islam and marry them under terror to Muslim husbands.”
Christian parents say their girls are underage children who disappear either due to emotional ties or to blackmail, and they do not get any assistance from the police in locating them, not even after they have been coerced into converting to Islam, which is illegal before the age of 18. Muslims claim the girls, of whatever age, flee their homes and convert to Islam of their own free will.
Coptic activist Michael Saeed denies this, saying “there is no legitimate reason which prevents Muslim men from marrying women “of the Book” — either Jewish or Christian — without their conversion to Islam. What we have here is a Saudi Arabia funded campaign of Islamization of Christians in Egypt.”
BBC segment on the kidnapping of Christian girls by Muslim men in Egypt
In a dark room nestled in the back corner of a small apartment sat Rafat Matta Damion, the father of an abducted girl. Rafat had heard of his daughter’s rape and fought tirelessly for her release. He looked tired sitting on a bed with shoulders hunched over. He had gone out of his way to meet me and had already put in a full day’s work of manual labor. But, the disheartened man looked to me as a glimmer of hope, a step towards getting his daughter back or, at the very least, a light to shine purpose on her plight.
I explained to him that his daughter’s case carried great significance to our cause and that his testimony would shed light to this undocumented and under-reported occurrence. He listened and was grateful, but his eyes grew void of the hope I had seen minutes before. “Ebtesam disappeared on Christmas morning,” he began. “She took the kitchen garbage out and was gone. It was the last time I ever saw her.” Rafat knew who it was that kidnapped her, for it had happened once before. The first time she was only fifteen. It was his neighbor Sabry, a policeman who had a wife and two children.
Rafat reported the kidnapping to four separate branches of Egyptian security. The police filed the reports, but investigations did not amount to anything. When the case finally appeared in court, the judge was ready. Presenting forged documents as hard evidence, including a certificate that verified Ebtesam’s marriage to Sabry, the judge ruled that Ebtesam willingly chose to marry. Rafat was again heartbroken, not only would he never see justice come upon Sabry, but he would never see his daughter again. He continues to fight for his daughter’s release as best he can, “But what chance do I have?” he asked me. Days before our visit, he received a call from the abductor’s family saying they would return her for 20,000 Egyptian pounds (approximately $4,000). A sign of hope? Hardly. Rafat has been lied to before.
Rafat fits the mold. Uneducated, poor, and a Christian, it was not difficult to understand why his daughter was victimized. What could Rafat do? Fight through the court system? At a salary of less than two dollars a day, he couldn’t even pay for a lawyer. To the police department, he was a nonentity. His voice didn’t matter. When returning to the police station to inquire about the investigation’s progress, he was laughed at and mocked. Still today, he does not know where his daughter is or how her health is faring.
Ebtesam is one case among hundreds that occur each year where Christian girls fall prey to Egypt’s cultural norms – rooted in Islam – that legitimize violence against women and non-Muslims. The disappearance, forced conversions, and forced marriages of Coptic Christian girls is often accompanied by acts of violence, which includes rape, beatings, and other forms of physical and mental abuse. There are few organizations able or allowed to undertake the vast effort needed to defend, rehabilitate, and minister to these girls. By discreet and various methods, ICC is partnering with Egyptian Christian ministries who are courageously struggling to reclaim the dignity of their Christian daughters.
Engy Adel was on her way home from school in Alexandria, Egypt when a van with no plates pulled beside her, grabbed her and drove away. Only 12 years old, Engy had been abducted.
Interviewed on Al-Hayat television, Engy explained what happened: “I was coming out of school on a normal day going home. Then there was a van and some guys who came out of the van and began following me. Then two of them grabbed me and tied my arms and pushed me into the van. I woke up and found myself in an apartment… A man called Sultan took me into the room and tied my hands behind my back and raped me. Another four entered in and one after the other, they raped me. Each raped me and was brutally hurting my body as if I was their enemy. They beat me so heavily… that I could neither eat, drink nor sleep. All they cared for was that I took the drugs and rape me.
“Another group of men came and took me away from them. I stayed with them two days and I don’t know how these two days passed by. There were five of them. They were all in the room with me at the same time. I couldn’t tell the difference between day and night – I was raped 24/7. No less than 50 men raped me that much. After that my father found me and brought me back home.”
It was not until months later that Adel Wassily, Engy’s father, found his daughter after being notified of her location by an anonymous caller. They moved to an unknown location for Engy’s safety.
See full interview here: