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By Sandra Elliot

5/23/2016 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – The following is the first of six different accounts in which Christian women and girls have been kidnapped and brutally forced into conversion and Islamic marriages. International Christian Concern (ICC) has recently learned of this resurging phenomenon of cruelty and persecution against Christian women in Egypt, with these six cases all taking place in the last two months.

A Historical Trend

Abductions like these are not new in Egypt; they have come in waves since the 1970s. The 1980s saw multiple waves of Christian abductions and forced marriages, most of which were never redeemed due to the little help from Egyptian police officers. More than indolence, many Christians in Egypt believe that authorities have actually aligned with the criminals carrying out these vicious crimes.

Now we are seeing a new wave of these attacks in Upper Egypt with, again, minimal help from local authorities and little hope for the families left behind.

Mary’s Story

Mary Wahib was kidnapped at gunpoint in front of her home in the village of Bait Alaam on May 1.

Four masked men attacked her at 8:30 p.m. and pushed her into a car with no license plate number. Upon hearing her screams, Mary’s father and two brothers ran out to her aid, only to be stopped by the sound of gunfire.

“After it happened, we headed immediately to Girga police station and filed a formal complaint,” Emad Wahib, Mary’s cousin, explained. “We accused a young Muslim man named Islam Ahmed of kidnapping her, because he had attacked her before.”

The police officers at the Girga station refused to arrest Islam due to the dangers associated with his village. They asked for two days’ time to investigate the matter.

The Wahib family could not wait that long. Instead, they, along with many other Coptic Egyptians, went to the Al-Balyana police station and hosted a demonstration outside in a desperate attempt to bring attention to Mary’s fate.

On May 2, Islam Ahmed was arrested by police from the Al-Balyana station, only to be released shortly after.

On May 4, a video clip of Mary surfaced on Facebook. In it she revealed her name, age and location, as well as her decision to convert to Islam. She also emphasized that she had not been kidnapped and that her conversion was by her own will.

“I bear witness there is no god but Allah,” she concluded. “I bear witness that Muhammad is his messenger.”

According to testimonies from other Christian women who were kidnapped and forcefully converted to Islam in Egypt, the truth behind Mary’s conversion could be more sinister. Many of these women have reported being repeatedly beaten and raped by their captors, who were videotaping the atrocious acts all along. When the women refused to convert to Islam, their kidnappers threatened to publish the baring footage online, leaving the victims little choice but to submit.

Mary’s family continues to protest her captivity today, as they believe she is a victim of forced conversion.

“We do not waive our rights,” Mary’s cousin asserted. “We are sure that Mary was kidnapped and forced to appear in this video. We accuse the police of apathy, conniving with the kidnappers … we urge the officials in the state to intervene and return Mary to us.”

Mary’s case is, again, just one in a string of such tragedies befalling Christian families in Upper Egypt today.