07 januar, 2007

Disse piger, der bare bliver ved med at forsvinde....

En historie fra Egypten - hvor kristne piger har en tendens til pludselig at forsvinde:

Increasingly over the past few years, the Coptic community has been wrecked by the thorny issue of the ‘disappearance’ of young Coptic women—in most cases underage girls. The usual scenario is that a woman leaves her home for some perfectly normal errand or work and fails to come back. Her family reports her missing and, a few days later, the police inform them that their daughter has married a Muslim and converted to Islam, and that they were not to contact her because she wished to have nothing to do with them. Those are the lucky families though. In many instances, nothing is ever heard again of the disappeared girls. And even worse, police refuse to give any statistics of the cases.

Watani was informed of the disappearance of Marwa from Kafr Tohormos, Dina Amin and Nermine Ayad from Mehalla, Pussy from Assiut and Mona from Fayoum who both disappeared days before their wedding dates, Nevine and Maria from Alexandria, Sara from Ismailiya, Marguerite and Nariman from Ezbet al-Nakhl, Teresa from Abu-Qurqas, Mariam from Nag-Hamadi and Mariam Agaybi from Giza. All of them disappeared in 2006, and all but Mona are underage. And these are just some of the cases that were brought before Watani’s attention.

Police always claim that the girls elope because of family problems or falling in love with Muslim men. Which prompts many Copts to wonder: Have Coptic men suddenly become unattractive?

The Mehalla girl Up close and personal

On 8 October, Watani printed the story of 15-year-old Loruns Wagih Emil, the daughter of a textile merchant in the mid-Delta town of Mehalla al-Kubra, who was abducted a week earlier but managed to escape and tell her story. Amid all the details of the incident, the role of the security apparatus stood out. Loruns, her parents and lawyer, claimed she had been pressured by security officials into signing a statement denying her abduction and claiming she had simply travelled to Cairo. At the time Watani asked: “Was Loruns one in a series of what Copts claim are abductions of their daughters and forced conversions to Islam?”. Watani commented: “Girls are definitely free to adhere to Christianity or to convert to Islam, and to marry whomsoever they decide upon of their own free will, once they are of age. As minors however, their parents, the entire Coptic community, and all enlightened and fair Egyptians, demand that their parents should be allowed to see them and talk to them. They have all been officially reported missing, and it is an open secret that the police know their whereabouts. In whose interest then are they kept out of contact with their parents?”


Normal teenager

Watani recently talked to Loruns. After going with her through the by-now well known details of her abduction and escape, the 15-year-old with the clear face and merry laugh said she had been leading a normal life with her father, mother, two sisters and brother. Loruns loves playing sports and is a brown belt karate player. Watani asked Loruns and her family about the Interior Ministry’s declaration that she had been facing family problems, was depressed because of Thanawiya Amma—the Egyptian secondary school certificate, a bottleneck which Egyptian students have to pass if they are to enrol in university—and had thus fled home.

Loruns said “My mother is my friend; I can tell her anything.” “We are a close-knit family,” the mother said. “I don’t know why the Interior Ministry claimed there were problems between us. Loruns had no problem with Thanawiya Amma; rather, she is a bright student and always ranks top in her class.”

As to the father, his responsibility as a successful textile merchant never prevented him from spending time with his family. He told Watani that his relationships with his neighbours and colleagues are cordial and affectionate. “I have no enemies,” he said. All the family members are regular churchgoers—which explains the swift, strong reaction of the congregation to Loruns’ disappearance—and they frequently go on family outings on the weekend. The children play sports and the parents jog together. “My girls are always properly attired, to fit our Christian character, even without taking into consideration the predominantly Islamic-dressed community we live in.” This last remark came as a comment on an allegation that Loruns may have been indecently dressed, prompting her abduction. (Henriks kommentar: i hvilken type samfund ville det være grundlag for en kidnapning?)

Closer to God

Watani asked Loruns if she was really facing problems with her studies. “How can that be? She quietly asked. I was abducted only two weeks after the school year began; how could I have already undergone depression? Exams were still months ahead and we had not even gone into the thick of study.”

Loruns told Watani that, following her release she went to see Pope Shenouda III who took her tenderly in his arms and told her “Never fear, the Lord was with you and will always be with you.” Then she went for a spiritual retreat at St Dimiana convent in the Delta “where I spent a wonderful time,” she said. “What I went through, Loruns said, has made me feel as I though I suddenly grew up. But it has also brought me closer to God.”

UPDATE

Fra Voice of the Martyrs´ (et kristent nyhedsbureau der specialiserer sig i at dække forfølgelse af troende kristne) nyhedsbrev for 2. januar:

Police Raid Shop, Arrest Christian Shop Owner - VOM Sources On December 26, 2006, police raided a shop owned by Magdy Guirgis Fam, an active member in the Egyptian Christian Youth Union (ECYU), who works under the Coptic Orthodox Church. The police destroyed his shop, beat him and arrested him. Magdy's ministry is following up with girls that Muslims kidnap or try to forcibly convert. This ministry has protected, rescued hundreds of Christian girls who have been threatened with kidnapping or forced conversion. The secret police have threatened other members of the ECYU.

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