Christian Families Tell of Losing Their Daughters

July 10, 2013 by Open Doors in General


Photo: Magda

Hundreds of Egyptian Christians have been victimized in a wave of kidnappings since the fall of the Mubarak government in 2011. The Association of Victims of Abduction and Forced Disappearance reports having registered 500 cases across Egypt since early 2011 in which Coptic Christian girls have been kidnapped. Precise figures are elusive, partly due to the general breakdown of law enforcement across Egypt since the 2011 revolution, and partly because some kidnappings go unreported. In Minya province alone, where there is a prominent Christian community, more than 150 people have been kidnapped during the past two years, according to the Associated Press.

Nationwide, the ministry said the number of kidnappings grew by 145 per cent from 2011 to 2012.

Christians are not the only victims. The wealthy-a group which includes many Egyptian Coptic Christians-are natural targets. Many of the kidnappings have occurred in the country’s southern regions, where the concentration of Christians is higher.

Church leaders and human-rights activists report that Egypt’s government, which until this week was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, created room for criminals to prey on Christians with little fear of repercussions.

A week before the recent protests began; World Watch Monitor spoke with two Christian families whose daughters had been kidnapped. Their stories offer a glimpse into the difficult situation facing vulnerable Egyptian Christians.

Magda Adel Gameel, a 19-year-old student in her final year of secondary school in Assyut City, located in southern Egypt, had just finished an Arabic lesson with her friends. She asked them to wait for her at Anba Magar Church while she ran an errand to a nearby pharmacy. It was 7 p.m., still daylight.

Coming out of the store, she encountered a veiled old woman, who complained of leg pain and asked Magda to help her walk to her car. Magda compassionately helped her to a car in an alley, and lowered her into a seat.

As Magda leaned into the vehicle, she was sprayed with something that knocked her out. When she regained consciousness during the drive, she was sprayed again. She awoke alone in an empty room. Her necklace, handbag and cell phone were gone.

When a veiled woman entered the room with some food, Magda spoke up in protest of her situation. The woman ordered her to remain silent. During trips to the bathroom, Magda’s eyes were blindfolded.

Magda spent an agonizing week in confinement. The veiled woman returned; this time she asked Magda to call her father and deliver a demand for ransom. The woman dialed the phone and handed it to Madga. An unfamiliar male voice answered.” This is not my father,” she told the veiled woman. The woman struck Magda, and ordered her to demand the ransom payment. Magda did as she was told, but the man replied that his daughter had not been kidnapped and was with him at that moment.

The veiled woman took the phone and left the room. Magda heard people shouting as they realized they had kidnapped the wrong Magda. The man on the phone, named Ibrahim, was wealthy and had a daughter also named Magda. This Magda, however, came from a less well-off family.

On June 11, the veiled woman entered the room and knocked Magda out with the spray. Magda woke up outside, near a road in the desert. Disoriented in an unfamiliar place, she began to pray; just then a taxi approached on the road. She waved it down, and told the driver her story. “Where are we?” Magda asked the driver. They were on the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road, near Alexandria, in northern Egypt. The cab driver took her into the city, where she called her frantic parents. Magda, returned home safely, only to realize she had missed her final exams. Though her father filed a police report, her kidnappers have not been found.

Meanwhile, in Talkha, a Nile River city in northern Egypt, Jessica Nady Gabriel, 7, was attending a wedding party for her uncle and his new bride with her family on June 2 at the Saraya Wedding Hall.

The joyous gathering of family and friends continued into the evening. When her parents prepared to leave, however, they discovered that little Jessica had disappeared. By 10 p.m. the family had looked everywhere they could think to search for Jessica. Her distraught father went to the police station to report her missing.

For the next four days, hundreds of Copts gathered in front of the Talkha police station calling for action. A few days later, the kidnappers contacted the family. They demanded 650,000 Egyptian pounds (about US $92,000). The exorbitant amount is about 12 times the average Egyptian’s year salary.

Jessica’s parents and relatives pooled their money, though they did not say how much, and paid the captors what they were able to gather. The girl was finally returned on June 21 after nearly three weeks in captivity.

Father, we pray for the safety of Christian girls in Egypt, at risk for kidnapping. Where the parents are powerless to protect them, we pray for Your Spirit to guard them and keep them from harm. We pray that as the political climate changes the kidnappings will cease. We also lift up those who have been returned to their families after terrifying ordeals. Please bring them comfort and healing as they recover and readjust to life. In the name of Jesus, our protector and hope, Amen.

Source: World Watch Monitor

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