International News

Religious Persecution Continues In Egypt
by Evangelical Press News Service, August 29, 1998
Posted: Wednesday, May 31, 2000 07:27 pm CST

CAIRO, Egypt (EP) - Coptic Christians in Egypt continue to be persecuted by Moslem extremists. The International Coptic Federation reports that kidnapping of Christian girls by Moslem extremists continues, and Egyptian authorities are doing little to stop it.

In July a girl named Amal Zakareya Botros was kidnapped while walking with her fiance on one of Assiut's streets. "A car suddenly stopped beside them and grabbed her and took off," her uncle said. The girl has not been seen since. The local police chief has told religious leaders and family members that there is no hope the girl will be found, and has advised them to "forget about her."

The kidnapping of Coptic girls has become a weekly routine in Egypt recently. The Egyptian government and police make no effort to bring the girls back or to catch the kidnappers, who are believed to be Moslem fundamentalists. It is believed that more than 300 Coptic girls have been kidnapped.

In another incident of religious persecution, a new Coptic Christian church in a poor district of Cairo was forcibly closed by Egyptian authorities July 15, just three weeks after it opened. In a "spectacular show of force," police and soldiers sealed off the new Church of St. Bishoi, posting an armed guard and sealing doors and windows with wax.

Government authorities say the church was built illegally using a building permit for a kindergarten; a prominent Coptic leader in Egypt stated that the church could never have been built legally, since the whole government procedure takes "far too much time," making it possible for extremist Muslim groups to cause difficulties and even block building procedures. Egypt's government approval process for a new Christian church can take up to 10 years.

More recently, three Coptic Christians were shot to death on their farm Aug. 12, according to Egyptian police and witnesses. Islamic extremists are believed to be responsible. Two other relatives managed to escape the gunmen. Security officials blamed the murders on Islamic militants who have waged a violent campaign since 1992 to overthrow Egypt's secular government. About 1,200 people have been killed.

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