By Martin Roth
Do a Google search of “kidnap” and “Copts” and you will receive hundreds of thousands of references. It is also one of the themes of my novel “The Coptic Martyr of Cairo.”
The Bulletin of the Oppression of Women carries just one horrific example, of a 20-year-old devoutly Christian woman who disappeared while on her way to college, almost certainly a kidnap victim.
Hundreds of young Coptic women…have left home under mysterious circumstances or simply vanished…Surrounding most disappearances are allegations that the women have been kidnapped by a small number of fundamentalist Muslim gangs or men working on their own, and forced to undergo conversion to Islam through intimidation, violence and rape.
A number of criminals have specialized in executing such operations in collusion with the police, including a certain Nofal Rabie. The security forces sought Rabie’s help to eliminate a number of Jihadists, and in return allowed him to impose ransoms on Coptic dealers.
On December 1, 2011, unknown armed assailants stopped Pharmacist Michelle William and Dr. Magdy Helmy on their return home from work, kidnapped them and blackmailed their families. The families responded and paid 600,000 Egyptian Pounds [about $90,000] to release them. This incident was the first in what became a growing trend.
…The incident pushed Nag Hamadi’s Bishop to hold a press conference in early January to bring attention to the number of kidnappings that have targeted Copts and to pressure security forces to stop the phenomenon.
Observers described the repetition of kidnapping cases as a systematic attempt to drain the wealth of Copts, as the city includes a large number of wealthy Copts who have more money than influence. Copts frequently face attempts of blackmail from thugs, while similar crimes involving the kidnapping of Muslims are rare.