Egypt's Double Standard in Muslim and Christian Abduction Cases
By Mary Abdelmassih
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(AINA) -- A 15-year-old Muslim girl, Zeina, was abducted on April 3, 2011 by gunmen in two cars as she was on her way to school in the family car. The driver was beaten and tied up by the kidnappers while the girl was forced into another car. A ransom of 5,000,000 Egyptian pounds was demanded for her return from her wealthy father Effat El-Sadat, a relative of former Egyptian President Anware Sadat. The kidnappers drove Zeina through three Nile Delta provinces before releasing her near a cafeteria on the Cairo to Alexandria desert road, after getting the ransom.

The authorities gave a press conference the next day and said that thanks to the efforts of a team of 400 officers from the Interior Ministry who worked on the case, the six culprits had been arrested. It took less than 24 hours for Zeina to return home, the six kidnappers to be arrested and the 5,000000 Egyptian pounds to be returned. The kidnappers were charged with abducting a minor and on April 19 the military court sentenced five of them to life imprisonment and the sixth to 15 years.

Two days after this kidnapping, on April 5, Nabila Sedky (15), a Coptic Christian girl from the poor neighborhood of Zawya el Hamra in Cairo, accompanied her Muslim schoolmate Souad Abdelrassoul for a lesson at school, which was never to be. Her family never saw her again.

Sedky Sobhy, Nabila's father, said that he filed a report with the police after "the Muslim schoolmate evaded us and on numerous occasions gave us wrong information about the whereabouts of Nabila after they left each other, and sent us on wild goose chases. "

Coptic activist and lawyer Karam Gabriel along with other Coptic colleagues volunteered to take up Nabila's case without fees because the family cannot afford a lawyer.

At first the police had as their prime suspect a 22-year-old Copt, Pola Samir, who had asked for Nabila's hand in marriage when she becomes of age, as is customary in some parts of Egypt. "But Pola had an alibi," said Gabriel "as he was working 50 kilometers away from Cairo with Nabila's uncle on the day Nabila disappeared."

After pressure from the Coptic lawyers, the state prosecutor's office obtained from the three mobile phone networks operating in Egypt the numbers and addresses of people who had spoken to Nabila before her disappearance.

"We were able to identify a young Muslim named Mohammad Abdelbari Mady and his accomplice," said Gabriel, "who owns the mobile phone line which Mohammad used to call Nabila with." He was arrested and confessed to abducting her.

During investigation it was revealed that Mohammad Abdelbari Mady and his brother-in-law took Nabila by car from Ramsis Street, in downtown Cairo , and hid her for over three months at his sister's home. By the time prosecution got permission to search the sister's home Nabila was moved somewhere else.

District public prosecution charged Mady with 'abduction of a female without deception or coercion.' "This is illogical. How could you 'abduct' someone with her free will? " said Karam, adding that during last week's court session, he insisted the charge should be "abducting a 15 year -old minor, without her free will, by deception and coercion." He added that prosecution ignored his friend, who gave him his phone to use, and his sister and her husband, who hid Nabila for over three months in their home, then moved her again before the police searched their home. "These are accomplices and ought to be charged as well, according to Egyptian law."

Karam Gabriel and his team had filed a complaint with the Attorney General and are asking to have the charges changed to abduction of a minor by deception and coercion, and to include the other three participants.

"I have proof there are corrupt police officers. I gave the investigators tips where to look, information we got through three months of hard work, and instead they were looking at a Copt with an alibi," said Karam, adding that he believes Mady still has Nabila hidden somewhere and he could wait until she reaches 18 years old to convert her to Islam or marry her before, which is also against the law but still takes place.

Two weeks ago Nabila Sedky appeared in a YouTube video clip presented by an Islamic website. She was wearing a Hijab and told her parents that she is fine and did not want to leave them but she converted to Islam, the religion of truth, in March and it is not possible to return back to them "because as you know any Christian girl who converts to Islam, you send to the monastery and she is tortured until she dies," she said, echoing the false charge made by Islamists against the Coptic Church. She said if they wanted her to go back to live with them, they would have to convert to Islam.

Commenting on the video clip, Nabila's father said that she looks like his daughter, but she does not talk like her. He believes she has been drugged and brainwashed. "I called the security officer and told him about the video clip but he assured me that it was all kids' play, and said your daughter is a minor and I will get her back for you."

Ezzat Andrawes, of the Coptic History Encyclopedia, which monitors all offences against Copts, said the police policy is to delay matters for several weeks, to give the Islamization rings enough time to rape the Coptic girl or terrorize her through threats of killing her father or mother or disfiguring her sister's face by acid, or until she is pregnant with a Muslim fetus. "The girl then gives in and sacrifices herself to save her family." In cases where the victim is raped, Egyptian law stipulates the death sentence, "but this applies only to Muslims and not to Coptic females," said Andrawes.

Nabila's father said that he still knows nothing about her whereabouts. "All I get are promises from security officials. Why do they apply double standards? el-Sadat's daughter was found within several hours but what about my daughter? Are Coptic girls not Egyptian citizens as well?"

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