(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 (AINA 7-4-2011).
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 (AINA 12-23-2009).
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."
Egypt4Christ, which monitors the abduction and forced Islamization of Christian minors, published this week its latest report, which shocked many people because of the age of the targeted Christian girls, the involvement of high ranking officials as well as the Salafist leader from Alexandria, Sheikh Osama Borhammi, who is contemplating running for President in the upcoming Egyptian elections.
Egypt4Christ initiated this project when an Alexandrian priest reported that a ten-year old Coptic girl was sexually abused by a 20-year-old Muslim university student.
The investigation by Egypt4Christ, carried out under secrecy, exposed a highly organized Muslim ring centered in the Fatah Mosque in Alexandria. The investigation also uncovered a systematic "religious call" plan, where young Muslim males in high school and university are urged to approach Coptic girls in the 9-15 age group and manipulate them through sexual exploitation and blackmail. The plan, called "operation soaking lupin beans" (small dried beans, soaked until they grow in size and are then eaten raw), aims at sexually compromising Christian girls, defiling them and humiliating them in front of their parents, thereby forcing them to flee their homes, and use conversion to Islam as a "solution" for their problems.
"The architect of this idea, who diligently promotes it among the Muslim youth, is Salafi Muslim Sheikh Osama Borhammi, in collaboration with other Sheikhs," says Ms. Rasha Nour, head of Egypt4Christ. Some volunteers from the Young Female Muslims Service are also engaged, according to Nour.
The report has published the names of those involved in this Islamization ring, including names of co-operating department heads and officers of the Alexandria headquarters of State Security, the name of a legal firm supporting this ring, the location of places used to keep Christian girls, as well as complete addresses and private telephone numbers of those involved.
Magdy Khalil, political analyst and researcher in Coptic affairs also believes that abduction and forced Islamization of Coptic girls is an organized crime, carried out through an organized and pre-planned process by associations and organizations inside Egypt with domestic and Arab funding.
Recently a new organization named "Alliance for the Support of New Muslim Females" staged protests against the Coptic church, accusing it of abducting Christian-born converts to Islam. "It is a Salafist organization, without a doubt," says Michael Saeed. "It has a primary role in the Islamization of minors. The proof for this, is that any case of disappearance of a Coptic female in any province in Egypt and at any time, you find they have a complete file on it. A clear blueprint is followed, in coordination with security and legal agencies, to get the results they want."
By Mary Abdelmassih