Kidnapping of young Coptic Christian girls in Egypt have reportedly been on the rise in recent weeks and has left many in the country questioning the role of the government and police in protecting girls in the North African country.
In Southern Egypt, numerous reports have risen that girls are taken from the street while walking to and from school, forced to convert to Islam and become wives of older Muslim men. While Bikyanews.com has found it difficult to confirm these kidnappings, the sheer number of reports tend to give this backing.
The kidnappings are mostly blamed on criminal gangs, which operate more freely amid Egypt’s collapse in security since the 2011 fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Crime has risen in general across Egypt, hitting Muslims as well. But the wave of kidnappings in Minya has specifically targeted Christians, and victims, church leaders and rights activists ultimately blame the atmosphere created by the rising power of hard-line Islamists.
They contend criminals are influenced by the rhetoric of radical clerics depicting Egypt’s Christian minority as second-class citizens and see Christians as fair game, with authorities less likely to investigate such crimes.