CAIRO, Egypt – A Christian human-rights organization asked its supporters yesterday to pray urgently for a 17-year-old Christian girl in Egypt who it said has been kidnapped for a second time in two months by militants trying to force her to convert to Islam.

The independent Barnabas Fund said the latest incident was part of a development in Egypt where “police have overlooked and sometimes even aided Muslim men in stealing Christian girls from their families and abusing them in the name of Islam.”

It noted that the girl, whose name was not identified, had been abducted from a district in Cairo on June 2 and that local police are believed to have aided the Muslim abductors. Barnabas Fund’s charge of alleged police involvement could not be confirmed independently.

The human rights organization, which investigates the situation of persecuted Christians in mainly Islamic nations, described her family as “completely devastated,” as they already “endured a horrific ordeal since she was abducted [the first time] in April,” after leaving the house with her savings passbook and money.

Cross tattoo

“During her initial abduction (April 6) she reports that she was sexually abused and drugged in order to manipulate her. A cross tattoo on her hand was forcibly removed,” Barnabas Fund said. Her abductors allegedly tried “to force her to convert to Islam, and one now claims to be her husband,” the organization added. Egyptian law specifically forbids the marriage of a girl under 21 without her parents’ consent and also makes it illegal to convert a Christian girl under the age of 18, Barnabas Fund said.

A Muslim man her parents suspected of involvement in the kidnapping admitted to having her money, but told police she gave it to him.

“Throughout the ordeal, the local police were uncooperative with the family, if not abusive,” Barnabas Fund claimed. “On Wednesday, April 7, a number of local Muslim leaders, including a local member of parliament, were seen at the police station showing their support for keeping the girl away from her family.”

Although later that day “police eventually told her parents they could collect her at 5 p.m.,” the parents “were not permitted to take their daughter home until midnight” and “during these seven hours they were intimidated,” the organization reported.

Car crash

Barnabas Fund said it has learned that when the family finally drove home, their car was struck apparently intentionally by another vehicle, forcing them to return to the police station, where officers kept the girl another night, ostensibly for her protection, and refused to document the traffic incident.

“In reality, it appears her captors wanted another opportunity to pressurize her into refusing to rejoin her family. The police made it difficult for them to reclaim her again the next day, April 8.”

Barnabas Fund said the Christian girl claimed she had been influenced by the suspects for two years and that they threatened that her family to harm her if she did not leave them. The suspects have never been charged, and the family took refuge.

“This case shows an unbelievable disregard for the rights of children and the institution of the family,” Barnabas Fund said in a statement. “It also shows a complete disregard for law by some Egyptian police and the prejudice with which they treat minorities, particularly Christians. Unfortunately, the forced conversion of young Christian girls in Egypt is a recurring theme.”

Besides kidnapping, other methods of intimidation are used to force Christian girls to give up their faith in Christ, including a quick underage marriage as the “honorable” conclusion to a rape “for which no one is charged,” Barnabas Fund stressed.

The organization asked supporters to “pray that this girl will be returned to her family as soon as possible” as “her abductors presumably want to force her to make an official declaration of conversion when she turns 18. Barnabas Fund added it was important to “pray that she will be preserved spiritually, physically and emotionally while she is imprisoned by these men.”

It also urged supporters, who are often born-again Christians, to “pray for this Christian family who have lost their child. They need strength and peace from the Lord to endure this horrible ordeal.” It was important to “pray for justice, that her abductors would be charged and sentenced,” Barnabas Fund said.

This report courtesy of the Assist News Service.

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