Egypt’s Silent Epidemic of Christian Women Who Face Kidnapping, Rape, and Torture

Christians pray during Palm Sunday mass inside the Cave Cathedral or St. Sama’ans Church on the Mokattam hills overlooking Cairo, Egypt on 9 April 2017. (Photo by Ibrahim Ezzat/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Egypt’s Christian community faces dangers that most other Egyptians needn’t fear. Threats of violence during church services, attacks on buses filled with innocent pilgrims and their children, and assaults on successful Christian businesses happen all too frequently.

But only occasionally do they appear in the Western media.

Meanwhile, mass kidnappings, such as the Boko Haram abductions in Nigeria, are widely reported. Even accounts of young Pakistani Christian girls’ abductions have been published from time to time.

However, an ongoing nightmare in Egypt has gone virtually unnoticed for years. Victims fall silent. Authorities turn a blind eye and religiously-motivated kidnappings are extremely difficult to document.

But the truth is that Christian women in Egypt face an epidemic of kidnapping, rape, beatings and torture. Innumerable girls and women vanish forever, and even if they are somehow rescued, their stories are thought to be so shameful that they’re hidden as dark family secrets. Meanwhile, doctors quietly repair internal damage and “restore virginity” to abused teenagers and twenty-somethings. Priests try to protect family reputations when the girls return.

Meanwhile, the devastated survivors will never be the same.

The attacks vary – some happen randomly, when a vulnerable female is spotted walking alone on a sidewalk. Other are plotted by Islamist consortiums, who pay kidnappers as much $3,000 per girl. The assailants rape the victims, hold them in captivity, then demand that the terrified young women to convert to Islam – often violently abusing them until they surrender.

These crimes are particularly common in villages outside Egypt’s major cities, where radicalized thugs act with impunity, sometimes forming raging mobs and leaving behind a trail of blood, ashes and broken people.

World Watch Monitor, an international Christian publication, interviewed a man who had been once an abductor himself. He explained, “A group of kidnappers meets in a mosque to discuss potential victims. They keep a close eye on Christians’ houses and monitor everything that’s going on. On that basis, they weave a spider’s web around [the girls].”

Once a victim is delivered to a radical Islamist organization, he explained, her price tag, payable to the kidnappers, is big money in a cash-strapped country like Egypt. The kidnappers are happy with their share of the loot. However, their radical Islamist handlers have a “higher” aim: to strengthen Islam and weaken Christianity.

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SOURCE: Jerusalem Post, Lela Gilbert