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Wave of Kidnappings Rock Upper Egypt's Christian Community
By Sandra Elliot

Young Coptic Orthodox Christians at a Palm Sunday mass in the Samaan el-Kharaz Monastery in the Mokattam Mountain area of Cairo. There has been a wave of kidnappings, forced conversions and forced marriages of young Christian girls in Egypt. ( Reuters)
A recent wave of kidnappings in Upper Egypt has paralyzed the local Christian community. International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned of at least seven cases now in which teenage girls have disappeared, likely to be forcefully married and converted to Islam.

In the fourth of six confirmed cases, Amal Shaky, age 19, was kidnapped presumably on her way to class at Cairo University.

On March 27, 2016, Amal left her house at 7:00 a.m. to attend an 8:00 a.m. lecture. She was expected to be home by 2:30 p.m. At 4:00 p.m., her father began to worry when he realized that her cell phone was shut off and he couldn't reach her. At 5:30 p.m., her brother and cousin set out to look for her.

Her relatives searched the university, hoping she had attended an on-campus party for the evening. When students were leaving the party by 9:00 p.m., they assured her family that she had not attended the event. The rest of the evening was spent searching the campus and local hospitals in hope of some answers.

The very next day, March 28, Amal's father, Zakaria, went to the Mohandessin police station to file a report.

He said, "When I asked the officer to file a complaint of [the] kidnapping of my daughter, he said to me, 'Maybe you killed your daughter and threw away her body.'"

After harassing Zakaria, the officer refused to file a report and asked for a few hours to investigate the matter.

When Zakaria returned two hours later, the officer at the Mohandessin police station presented a false story as to where Amal had been during the time of her disappearance. Zakaria immediately refuted his words with a phone call to a relative, convincing the policeman to file a report.

"He agreed to file a report but refused to write that Amal was kidnapped and wrote instead that she is missing," Zakaria told ICC.

This is not the first time that Amal was kidnapped. On April 4, 2011, she was taken by four men. Although a formal complaint was filed, the police did nothing to help return Amal to her family. Zakaria and other relatives were able to secure Amal's release on April 20 and have one of the four kidnappers convicted.

The arrested assailant was sentenced to seven years in prison, though he has not been arrested and the verdict was never executed.

On April 11, 2016, Zakaria went to the Agouza court to follow up on the police report he had filed a week prior. When meeting with the prosecutor, he told the story of Amal's previous abduction and that none of those responsible were ever imprisoned. It was while investigating the most recent kidnapping that Zakaria realized the convicted abductor from 2011 was never imprisoned.

Each and every time Zakaria or other family members have returned to the police station, they have been turned away. The police claim to be investigating the matter.

"More than 40 days have passed since my daughter was kidnapped, and they say that the matter is under investigation," Amal's father told ICC. "I don't know how long I should wait. Wait until they tell me that my daughter is killed or got married?"


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