SPIKE IN KIDNAPPINGS BESETS EGYPT’S VULNERABLE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY

Country/Region: Egypt, Middle East and North Africa

 

The Christian community has been blamed for the fall of Morsi

 

The Christian community has been blamed for the fall of Morsi

The Christian community in Egypt has been beset by a sharp increase in kidnappings since the authorities cleared sit-in protests by supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammad Morsi.

Hany Sedhom was seized in late September. He was dragged out of his car, hit on the head with a rifle butt and had his face slashed with a knife; he was blindfolded, had his hands tied, and was driven off into the desert. For 48 hours, Hany was given no food and only filthy water to drink. His captors beat him and threatened to kill him, at one point holding a gun to his head in a pit.

Hany said:

I never thought I could take one millionth of what I endured. But every step of the way, every moment of pain, I could feel God there with me, telling me, “I’m going to save you”.

He was released after his wife paid a ransom of 300,000 Egyptian pounds (£27,000; US$44,000).   

Kidnapping has been a persistent problem for the Christian community since the “Arab Spring” of 2011. More than 100 Christians have been seized, most of them from Minya province, which has the highest percentage of Christians in the country and is also an Islamist heartland.

There has been a spike since 14 August, when the authorities broke up pro-Morsi demonstrations by members of the Muslim Brotherhood; 17 cases were recorded in Minya alone in August and September.

Christians are kidnapped for ransom and often subjected to abuse, threats and violence.

There has also been an increase in the disappearance of Christian girls, who are forcibly converted to Islam and married to Muslim men.

A Barnabas contact from Egypt told us that Christian children are afraid to play outside now because of the fear of being kidnapped, which keeps them like prisoners in their homes.

The Christian community says that the problem has been largely ignored by the police, which causes it to increase, as kidnappers feel that they can operate with impunity. 

Egyptian Christians have suffered an increase in violent attacks since the Arab Spring. These ratcheted up following the election of Morsi in June 2012 as Egypt took on a more overtly Islamist character, and intensified further following his removal in July 2013 as the Muslim Brotherhood blamed Christians for the uprising that resulted in his fall.

Following the dispersal of their protests on 14 August, Islamists torched scores of churches, Christian institutions and schools as well as countless Christian homes and businesses in what has been described as the worst single day of violence against the Egyptian Church since the 14th century.


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