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Egypt: Officials Abet Kidnappers of Christian Woman, Father Says

Not only the Copts, but also our 300,000 Greek Orthodox brothers and sisters in Egypt suffer sporadic persecution, discrimination, and harassment, and as we see so often, frequently Egyptian officials do little or nothing to alleviate their plight.

For previous ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in Egypt, see here.

“Officials in Egypt Abet Kidnappers of Christian Woman, Father Says,” Morning Star News, March 14, 2024:

(Christian Daily International) – Authorities in Egypt have abetted the kidnapping and forcible conversion to Islam of a Coptic Christian woman, according to a widely published expert on the Middle East and Islam.

Irene Ibrahim Shehata, a 21-year-old medical student at Asyut National University, disappeared on Jan. 22 between mid-term exams in Asyut, according to Raymond Ibrahim, Distinguished Senior Shillman Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.

Her father reported in February that she had managed to make a desperate, tearful call to her brother before a man seized the phone and said, “Okay, you heard her voice and know she’s okay, right? Now go to hell!” before disconnecting, Ibrahim wrote in a report for rights watchdog Coptic Solidarity.

During the call, Shehata begged her brother either to rescue her or consider her dead and told him her location, according to an Egyptian source whose name is withheld.

“Her brother heard her screaming, someone was yelling at her, and then the call ended,” the source said. “It seems that she used his phone without his permission. This was a great piece of evidence that she was kidnapped.”

Having learned that she was in the city of Sohaj, the family went there and reported the phone call and her location to police, he said.

“The police officers threatened to arrest the family if they tried to rescue her and warned them that the kidnappers are armed,” he said.

On Feb. 21, police told her family that the kidnappers had changed her location to an unknown place, the source said.

“Another way to mislead families,” he said. “The Muslim Brotherhood Sharia Association in the Asyut Governorate, under security cover from Asyut and Sohaj cities, coordinated the kidnapping of Christian college student Irene Shehata.”

While officials eventually charged an unidentified man, State Security officials have been dismissive and hostile to Shehata’s family, telling her father that she ran off with a Muslim man of her own free will, according to Ibrahim, a U.S.-born Egyptian who is fluent Arabic.

“The father further stressed that, if Irene had intended to run off with a Muslim man, why would she do it in between exams, while carrying medical supplies” rather than travel items, he said.

State Security officials know exactly where Shehata is, the father said in an interview on social media, but refuse to act or let her family speak or meet with her, according to Ibrahim. He said State Security had provided the family with several false leads that led Shehata’s father and brother to travel up and down Egypt in futility….

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