Yet another Coptic Christian child was recently kidnapped in Egypt. Thirteen-year-old Cyril Rif‘at Fayiz was abducted in the Minya district by “unknown persons” who later called the child’s parents demanding one million Egyptian pounds, nearly the equivalent of $150,000 U.S. dollars.
This phenomenon—kidnapping and holding Coptic children captive for large ransoms—has become a regular feature of the Egyptian landscape, particularly in Upper Egypt. A few examples follow:
- August 2013: Copts held a funeral for Wahid Jacob, formerly a young church deacon. He too was kidnapped by “unknown persons” who demanded an exorbitant ransom from his family—1,200,000 Egyptian pounds (equivalent to $171,000 USD). Because his family could not raise the sum, he was executed—his body dumped in a field where it was later found. The priest who conducted his funeral service said that the youth’s body bore signs of severe torture.
- May 2013: After 6-year-old Cyril Joseph was kidnapped and the family paid ransom, he was still killed. In the words of the Arabic report, the boy’s “family is in tatters after paying 30,000 pounds to the abductor, who still killed the innocent child and threw his body in his sewer system, where the body, swollen and moldy, was exhumed.”
Egyptian Copts carry coffins down the aisle of the Virgin Mary Coptic Christian church in Cairo's working class neighbourhood of Al-Warrak, on October 21, 2013, as thousands attend the funeral of the four victims, gunned down as they attended a wedding the previous evening at the same church. The victims, two of whom were girls aged eight and 12, belonged to one family, according to relatives. Seventeen others were wounded the attack. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI
- April 2013: Ten-year-old Sameh George, another church deacon in Minya, was likewise abducted by “unknown persons” while on his way to church to participate in Holy Pascha prayers leading up to Orthodox Easter. His parents said that it was his custom to go to church and worship in the evening, but he failed to return and they received an anonymous phone call from his kidnappers informing them that they had the Christian child in their possession and would execute him unless they received 250,000 Egyptian pounds in ransom money.
- April, 2013: Another Coptic Christian boy, 12-year-old Abanoub Ashraf, was also kidnapped right in front of his church in Shubra al-Khayma district. His abductors, four men, put a knife to his throat, dragged him to their car, opened fire on the church, and then sped away. Later they called the boy’s family demanding a large amount of money to ransom child’s life.
As for Coptic girls, they are even more vulnerable than Coptic boys and disappear with greater frequency. As an International Christian Concern report puts it, “hundreds of Christian girls … have been abducted, forced to convert to Islam, and forced into marriage in Egypt. These incidents are often accompanied by acts of violence, including rape, beatings, and other forms of physical and mental abuse.”
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