06/07/2016 Washington, D.C.
(International Christian Concern
) – A new wave of kidnappings has come to plague Upper Egypt as Christian women and girls are being abducted and forced into Muslim marriages. Christian girls as young as 16 are being taken from their homes, schools, and public sidewalks as their families are left to beg unwilling or inept police authorities for help.
This is not the first time that crimes like these have persisted in Egypt. There have been random and repeated upsurges in these abductions since the 1970s, when President Anwar Sadat first introduced a more fundamentalist Islamic ideology in Egypt, inciting the creation of many radical Islamic groups.
In the third of six cases of which International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned, a 17-year-old girl was taken on April 11, 2016, while returning home from a friend’s house.
On Monday evening, Heba left her home in a Cairo district to attend private English lessons at a friend’s house. The lessons generally ended at 9:00 p.m. and with the 20 minute walk home, Heba usually returned by 9:30 p.m.
At 9:45 p.m., Heba’s mother started to worry as her daughter’s phone was shut off and she had not yet come home. Panic set in after she spoke with Heba’s friends who assured her that Heba had left the English lessons at 9:00 p.m. to go home.
By 10:30 p.m., Heba’s family set out in search for their daughter, only to return unsuccessful and grief-stricken.
On April 11, the next day, Heba’s father reported the disappearance to local authorities, though they have heard nothing since.
Heba has been missing for over a month.