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Friday, April 29, 2011

Copts demand return of missing Christian girls

ALMASRYALYOUM

Dozens of Copts staged a protest on Thursday in front of Egypt’s High Court, demanding the return of a number of Christian girls they describe as “disappeared".

A number of Coptic lawyers have submitted a report to the attorney general requesting that the minister of interior, Mansour al-Essawy, establish the location of eleven Christian girls who they say have disappeared since the 25 January revolution.

Demonstrators, including the families of the missing girls, also demanded that the head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, help locate the girls.

A statement by a Coptic group called the Maspero Youth Union denounced the “kidnapping" of Christian girls, giving the names of some of the lost females.

According to the statement, they include Heba Iskandar, who disappeared from Maadi along with her children, Heba Adel, who has been lost since 6 April after driving her son to school, and Maryam George Boqtor, who was lost with her children while buying them clothes before Easter celebrations.

Feuds have been raging between Egypt’s Muslims and Copts over the past few years concerning converts on both sides, with each camp accusing the other of forcing people, particularly females, to change their faith.

The latest case of this type was that of Kamilia Shehata, the wife of a priest in Minya, Upper Egypt, whose disappearance in July 2010 enraged the Coptic community. Many Copts believe that she was kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam.

Many Muslims, meanwhile, believe that Shehata is now being held against her will by the Coptic Church as a punishment for converting, and have staged several protests demanding her release.

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