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(Barnabas Fund) – A 17-year old Christian girl has disappeared from her family for a second time two months after she was abducted and held overnight by Muslim men, whilst local police blocked her return to her family. On Tuesday 2 June a Christian girl (name withheld) disappeared in Egypt . Her family, who have endured a horrific ordeal since she was abducted in April are now completely devastated. The family were from a district of Cairo and their local police had not only refused to protect her on previous occasions but are also believed to have aided her abductors. During her initial abduction she reports that she was sexually abused and drugged in order to manipulate her. A cross tattoo on her hand was forcibly removed. Her abductors tried to force her to convert to Islam, and one now claims to be her husband. Egyptian law specifically forbids the marriage of a girl under 21 without her parents’ consent. It is also illegal to convert a Christian girl under the age of 18. Despite these facts, the local police have supported her abductors and intimidated her family, blocking their every effort to get her back.

The earlier abduction took place on Tuesday 6 April 2004. The Christian girl had left her house that afternoon with her savings pass book and some money. About 10 p.m. that night her parents reported her disappearance to the police. The family suspected a local Muslim man because their daughter had previously complained of harassment by him, and they mentioned this to the police. When brought in for questioning the suspect admitted to having her money, saying she had given it to him. Throughout the ordeal, the local police were uncooperative with the family, if not abusive. On Wednesday 7 April a number of local Muslim leaders, including a local Member of Parliament, were seen at the police station showing their support for keeping the girl away from her family.

This case shows an unbelievable disregard for the rights of children and the institution of the family. It also shows a complete disregard for law by some Egyptian police and the prejudice with which they treat minorities, particularly Christians. However, it is not an isolated case. This case highlights a very serious issue in Egypt . Unfortunately, the forced conversion of young Christian girls in Egypt is a recurring theme. Many methods are used, from intimidation and pressure to a quick underage marriage as the ‘honorable’ conclusion to a rape for which no one is charged. Typically, almost as soon as she is away from her family and in the hands of a Muslim man, a Christian girl is treated as though she has officially converted and needs to be protected from her parents. An official conversion may not have been registered, since it is illegal to convert a child under 18, but she is kept from her family nevertheless. Christians who have gone to the police to report a missing girl or to receive information about her are then treated as criminals themselves. They are considered second-class citizens who would try to harm her or force her to reconvert to Christianity. Under Egyptian law it is illegal to marry a girl under the age of 21 without her parents’ consent. Yet marriage following a rape is seen to “legitimize” an underage marriage, no matter that the rapist and the groom are usually one and the same person. Police in Egypt would be very quick to prosecute a man who had abducted a Muslim girl under 18. Yet time and time again members of the Egyptian police have overlooked and sometimes even aided Muslim men in stealing Christian girls from their families and abusing them in the name of Islam.

PRAY

* Please pray that this girl will be returned to her family as soon as possible. Her abductors presumably want to force her to make an official declaration of conversion when she turns 18.

* Pray that she will be preserved spiritually, physically and emotionally while she is imprisoned by these men.

* Pray for this Christian family who have lost their child. They need strength and peace from the Lord to endure this horrible ordeal.

* Pray for justice, that her abductors would be charged and sentenced.