The unheard persecuted Christian community in Egypt

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

While Egypt’s Christian community are facing unprecedented levels of persecution, with attacks on churches and the kidnap of girls by Islamist extremists such as Muslim Brotherhood, intent on forcing them to marry Muslims and covert into Islam. In the past year, Egypt has moved up an annual league table of persecution of Christians compiled by the charity Open Doors. According to its World Watch List, North Korea is still the most dangerous country in the world in which to be a Christian, and Nepal has had the biggest increase in persecution.

According to Open Doors, 128 Christians were killed in Egypt for their faith and more than 200 were driven out of their homes in 2017. It attributed the rise in persecution to “the overspill of Islamic terrorists driven out of Iraq and Syria”.

Egyptian Christians were overlooked for jobs or promotion, university students were given bad grades or failed, schoolchildren were made to sit at the back of the class, shop owners were boycotted and hospital patients were not given proper treatment.

Egypt has the Christian community of over 95 million. The overwhelming majority are Orthodox, with up to 1 million evangelical Christians and 250,000 Catholics.

Lisa Pearce of Open Doors said: “Christians in Egypt face a barrage of discrimination and intimidation yet they refuse to give up their faith. It is hard for us … to imagine being defined by our religion every single day in every sphere of life.

“In Egypt, as in many other Middle Eastern countries, your religion is stated on your identity card. This makes discrimination and persecution easy – you are overlooked for jobs, planning permits are hard to obtain and you are a target when you go to church,” she added.

According to media reports, mass kidnapping of Christian females, similar to that of Boko Haram abductions in Nigeria are taking place in Egypt. Abductions of young Pakistani Christian girls have been published from time to time – but it seems to be an unending notoriety.

Western media unfortunately seems to be almost turning a blind eye on this extremely important matter.

According to the Guardian, “Threats of violence during church services, attacks on buses filled with innocent pilgrims and their children, and assaults on successful Christian businesses happen all too frequently.

“However, an ongoing nightmare in Egypt has gone virtually unnoticed for years. Victims fall silent. Authorities turn a blind eye and religiously-motivated kidnappings are extremely difficult to document.

“But the truth is that Christian women in Egypt face an epidemic of kidnapping, rape, beatings and torture. Innumerable girls and women vanish forever, and even if they are somehow rescued, their stories are thought to be so shameful that they’re hidden as dark family secrets. Meanwhile, doctors quietly repair internal damage and “restore virginity” to abused teenagers and twenty-something. Priests try to protect family reputations when the girls return.”

Description of notorious kidnapping of Christian girls:

Kidnapping of Egyptian Christian girls continue in the name of Islam or as part of “sacred duty” of Muslims. Situation truly is extremely alarming.

World Watch Monitor, an international Christian publication, interviewed a man who had been once an abductor himself. He explained, “A group of kidnappers meets in a mosque to discuss potential victims. They keep a close eye on Christians’ houses and monitor everything that’s going on. On that basis, they weave a spider’s web around [the girls].”

Once a victim is delivered to a radical Islamist organization, he explained, her price tag, payable to the kidnappers, is big money in a cash-strapped country like Egypt. The kidnappers are happy with their share of the loot. However, their radical Islamist handlers have a “higher” aim: to strengthen Islam and weaken Christianity.

The tactics vary. Some of the girls are flattered and romanced by their captors. A starry-eyed young woman falls in love and is delighted when her mysterious lover, who promises to convert to Christianity – if she’ll run away with him. All too often when she does, she is never heard from again.

Other young women are abducted off the street.

According to Terra Santa, hundreds of Christian girls have been kidnapped by Muslim men in Egypt, forced to convert and marry their abductors, often after suffering violence at the hands of their captors.

According to the Association of Victims of Abduction and Forced Disappearance (AVAFD), in 40 percent of the cases in which the girls and women abducted are between 14 and 40 years old, they are raped and subsequently forced to marry their captors after being converted to Islam. The organization says that other victims are instead coerced by young Muslims, who first gain their trust, then force them to convert and marry. During wedding preparations, the traditional cross that the Coptic minority tattoos on their wrists, a symbol of the Christian faith carried with pride by many members of the minority is erased with acid.

The high number of missing girls and the repeating identical operating patterns have convinced lawyers, activists and priests — long engaged in the battle against the terrible practice — that there is an organized network behind the kidnappings. According to some, there are Islamic cells dedicated exclusively to the abduction of Coptic women.

According to the Christian Freedom website, some of the abducted Christian girls find out they are second wife and are treated like animals. Some are sent to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf counties to work as domestic helps and they are exploited sexually and physically abused. When a Christian girl tries to escape from her Muslim husband or covert back to Christianity, she is being brutally murdered.

Radical Islamic groups are following the same practice of trapping Christian girls through romantic web in many of the Western nations in the world.

According to the Christian Today, Egyptians trace the rise of kidnapping back some 50 years. But the problem grew to epidemic proportions during Egypt’s revolution, when the Muslim Brotherhood came to power. Foreign money poured into Egypt – cash from militants available to anyone who would kidnap Christians and force them to convert.

In May 2018, the Christian Post has published cases of abduction of the Christian girls in Egypt. The Gospel Herald, Faithwire, Coptic Solidarity, Interface Institute, Christian Examiner, Counter Jihad Report and other websites also contain information on the notorious trend of kidnapping of Christian girls in Egypt.

Conclusion:

Cases of kidnapping of the Christian girls in Egypt are extremely worrisome. International community needs to exert pressure on the Egyptian authorities in accelerating their ongoing battle against radical Islam and militancy in that part of the world. In case of necessity, United States in particular and the European Union and Britain should come forward and save the Egyptian Christian population from further persecution.

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is the editor of Blitz.

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