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Hundreds of Christians Protest Targeted Kidnappings and Killings in Egypt
By Stoyan Zaimov

Christians attend Sunday service in the Virgin Mary Church at Samalout Diocese in Al-Our village, in Minya governorate, south of Cairo, May 3, 2015. Copts have long complained of discrimination under successive Egyptian leaders and Sisi's actions suggested he would deliver on promises of being an inclusive president who could unite the country after years of political turmoil. However, striking out at extremists abroad might prove easier than reining in radicals at home. Orthodox Copts, the Middle East's biggest Christian community, are a test of Sisi's commitment to tolerance, a theme he often stresses in calling for an ideological assault on Islamist militants threatening Egypt's security (Reuters/Stringer).
Over 150 Coptic Christians reportedly staged a sit-in protest on Sunday at the provincial administration office in Minya, Egypt, spreading awareness for the continued kidnappings of Christians across the country.

The protest in Minya specifically highlighted the case of an 18-year-old Coptic girl who has been missing for several days, with her family in the city of Samalot convinced she has been kidnapped, according to Fides News Agency.

"Kidnappings that target Christians remain a scourge for the Coptic community in many areas of Egypt. Already several appeals have been launched by Christian organizations to Egyptian authorities, including President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, so that adequate measures are taken to combat this phenomenon," the agency reported.

Coptic Christians, a minority in the Muslim-dominated country, are often taken and held as hostages until a ransom is paid for them, with the size of the financial demands based on family's ability to pay.

Several kidnappings have ended with the deaths of the hostages, however.

Copts also face challenges in court against Muslim judges when it comes to property ownership, such as a case back in November, where a Christian priest appealed to President El-Sisi to intervene and save his historic church from being demolished.

Earlier in February The Associated Press reported that three Coptic Christian students are also facing charges for insulting and mocking Muslim prayers, with their high school teacher also sentenced to three years in prison over the same charges.

AP noted that there has been a surge in blasphemy charges in recent months in Egypt, despite El-Sissi's promise to modernize Egypt's religious laws.

Copts were heavily targeted across Egypt in the wake of the fall of President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood party back in July 2013, when Islamic supporters of the fallen regime attacked followers of Christ, vandalizing Christian bookstores, orphanages and churches.

Morsi, along with 100 of his supporters, were sentenced to death in May 2015 for their role in a mass prison break in 2011.

Despite the suffering Christians experienced due to Morsi's regime, a Coptic Catholic Bishop spoke out against Morsi's death sentence at the time, arguing that the Church does not compromise on defending life.

"The Church respects the independence of the judiciary, but believes that life is an inviolable right, and remains opposed to the death penalty. The fact is that this type of sentence is still contemplated in the Egyptian legal order," Bishop Anba Kyrillos William said.

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