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Muslims Target Egyptian Christians Through Abductions, Forced Marriages and Conversions

It's an atrocity of epic concern – the radical Islamic targeting and trafficking of Christians.

The latest target of Islamic jihadist human trafficking is women and girls – and the latest reports from Egypt are appalling.

Muslim men are kidnapping Egyptian Christian women and girls, forcing them to marry, and in so doing, convert them to Islam. The abducted are also subjected to physical and sexual abuse, drugging, domestic servitude, and prostitution.

In Egypt, networks of abductors work as Islamic mercenary kidnappers-for-hire. Whether the abductors get involved in these networks for ideology or economy or both remains to be seen. However, either way, vast sums of money and material benefits can be attained every time they steal a girl from her family and forcibly convert her to Islam in preparation for marriage to the highest bidder.

One lawyer interviewed involved in an Egyptian abductor-conversion case stated:

[T]he same man's name occurred in multiple police reports. He married five Christian women who subsequently were forced to convert to Islam. So he would marry one, take her away, go back, work on another, get her converted, go back, work on another and systematically pursue a number of forced conversions. Family members report that their daughters or sisters were befriended by a schoolmate, a neighbor or another mother – an older mother figure over time.

Islamic abductors benefit materially as they are provided with, among other things, new and improved housing arrangements and jobs for family members.

According to the Washington Times, one Coptic Christian activist sees the abductions as “part of a campaign to Islamicize Egypt's Christian community.” The Christian Post reports that “[m]any Pakistani Muslims have resorted to this tactic of removing a young woman from her community so that she can bear Muslim children to increase their population.”

Whatever the radical jihadist abductor's evil intent may be, the pain and suffering it inflicts upon the kidnapped women and girls – and their families – is unbearable. What makes it worse is that they have almost no legal recourse or access to justice. Egypt is a Muslim-majority country that possesses a weak enforcement mechanism largely due to its legal authorities' penchant to become “complicit in the illegal act.”

This complicity is often accomplished through bribing police officers, using them to physically intimidate the girls to recite the Islamic creed, or “[i]n some cases, police provide the kidnappers with drugs they seize,” and then the “drugs are then given to the girls to weaken their resistance as they put them under pressure.”

The Islamic abductions of Egyptian Christian women and girls are not a new problem, but it's one that has reached an all-time high under the current Egyptian government. According to a 2012 U.S. congressional hearing, Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-4), Chairman of the Commission on the Security and Cooperation in Europe, testified:

[The] forced marriages and forced conversions of Coptic women, the vulnerability and abduction of Coptic Christians is not new. Going back to the 1970s, there were many accounts of Coptic women and girls being abducted by Muslims, forcibly [abducted] and forcibly married. There are many such reports, no doubt. Some of them were of women choosing to elope, marry across religious lines and cut off relations with their family. But the claim of the Egyptian government that this is the story of every one of the thousands of disappeared women and girls absolutely defies the evidence. The women and girls are found—who are found claim to have been drugged and kidnapped or kidnapped with violence. They often report human rights abuses including forced conversion, rape, forced marriages, beatings and domestic servitude.

Alarmingly, since the revolution, cases of . . . reported disappearance have increased while recovery of the women and girls have decreased. Those women who are found and returned to their families face many obstacles including government refusals to change their identity cards to reflect their return to their Christian faith, which seems to sanction forced conversions. Nor are we aware of any case before or after the revolution in which an abductor has been prosecuted.

In that same hearing Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, then-Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, testified:

[E]xperts and human rights groups have found that there were also credible cases where Coptic Christian women were lured deceptively into marriages with Muslim men and forced to convert to Islam. According to these reports, if a woman returns or escapes from the marriage and wants to convert back to Christianity, she faces the same legal hurdles in changing her religious affiliation on official identity documents as discussed.

Several legal obstacles deter families who want to help their women and girls return home. Additional testimony before Congress pointed out that (1) families do not report all cases of their relatives' abductions because they lack confidence that their claims will be taken seriously; (2) law enforcement does not file all the complaints that are reported by the families; (3) some authorities refuse to file until a lawyer represents the family; (4) families fear retribution by authorities in the Muslim-majority nation; and (5) not all families are financially able to procure the services of an attorney which is often needed to file a legitimate claim.

Another tactic utilized by the abductor networks to more expeditiously increase the Muslim population is to intentionally target mothers with young children. If they can forcibly convert the mother, “then all her children will automatically be considered Muslim as well.” These women and girls can be snatched anywhere and at any time – it doesn't matter whether they are at home, or on their way to school.

Through this process of targeting and abducting, Egyptian attorneys point out that the ultimate goal of placing these Egyptian Christian women and girls in captivity is to convert them.

A former abductor recounted:

[The abductor network] rented apartments in different areas of Egypt to hide kidnapped Coptic girls. There, they put them under pressure and threaten them to convert to Islam. And once they reach the legal age, a specially arranged Islamic representative comes in to make the conversion official, issue a certificate and accordingly, they change their ID.

The Egyptian government is failing to protect its citizen's basic human rights by allowing this appalling atrocity of the human trafficking and forced conversions of Christians to occur. As Egypt becomes more dangerous for Christians, the international community must take a stand against the warrantless violence and persecution of Christians.

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