In News & Reports

By Sandra Elliot – International Christian Concern

In the final account reflecting the resurgence of bride-snatching and forced conversions in Upper Egypt, Mariam, 16, was kidnapped on her way to school. Mariam, unlike the rest in this series, was released by a police raid two weeks after her abduction. The following tells her story:

May 12, 2016 was the day on which Mariam was to take her final exam at Beni Mazar Vocational School for Girls before summer break. When Mariam’s classmates noticed that she was not in attendance, they called her family to report the absence.

“We headed to Mariam’s school immediately when we learned that she didn’t do her exam…the school administration told us that Mariam didn’t enter in the examination,” a relative told International Christian Concern (ICC), “We then headed to Beni Mazar police station and filed a formal complaint number 4169.”

The family accused Ahmed Gamal Gadallah of kidnapping Mariam as she was last seen in his car on the way to school that day. Ahmed and his cousin, Sayed, both disappeared at the same time as Mariam.

Upon hearing what had happened to his daughter, Mariam’s father suffered a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized. After his recovery, he and other family members organized a sit-in protest at the Beni Marar police station demanding proper intervention on Mariam’s behalf.

On Wednesday, May 25, Mariam’s father returned to the police station for a follow-up meeting with the investigative officer of the case. While sitting with the police official, he received a phone call form Ahmed Gamal Gadallah, Mariam’s kidnapper.

Ahmed demanded 250,000 Egyptian pounds for the safe return of Mariam.

“Mariam’s father let the office hear the call and the officer asked him to negotiate with the kidnapper to take time while they monitored the line to locate the place of the kidnapper,” a relative told ICC.

The call ended soon after as Ahmed demanded the money in one week’s time.

The following day, May 26, police managed to raid an abandoned home in El-Isyan village where Mariam was being held captive. Ahmed was arrested and Mariam was returned to her family after two weeks of torture and abuse.

An Exception to the Norm

While this is joyous news, Mariam is only one in a long line of Christian women and girls suffering extensive abuse at the hands of radical Isalmists.

There is something dreadfully wrong in that the police were only involved with one of the six confirmed cases on which ICC has reported. Mariam’s story proves the capabilities of local authorities concerning kidnapping cases. If only the other girls were so fortunate to have been rescued in this same manner.

Christians in Egypt are indeed citizens of Egypt. They are entitled to equal protection under the law. It is time for the Egyptian government to take responsibility for their citizens and institute a nationwide reform that forces local policing offices to follow the law and protect the citizens of Egypt, regardless of their religion.


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