Rise in Number of Missing Coptic Women Amid Media Blackout in Egypt

Published October 15th, 2018 - 11:05 GMT
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks near Coptic Pope Tawadros II (L) during a Christmas Eve mass. (AFP/Khaled Desouki)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks near Coptic Pope Tawadros II (L) during a Christmas Eve mass. (AFP/Khaled Desouki)

In Egypt where there are no official statistics on the number of Copts, the only known fact is that they represent a minority with some media reports refer to as 10 to 15%.

Lately, several complaints were reportedly filed on the religious discrimination faced by Copts in Egypt. Starting from concealing the actual number of Copts living in the country by officials to the discrimination they face in workplaces.

Copts have also been facing another different problem that is believed to be related to the rise of radical terrorist groups in the Middle East and their obvious presence in Egypt

Human rights reports and activists have been reporting the increase in number of kidnappings of Coptic Christian girls and women by anonymous individuals in Egypt. There is mounting evidence of a media blackout on the matter by Egypt's tightly controlled state media. Few politicians have had the courage to discuss the issue.

On Twitter, a small number of Egyptian accounts have been sharing the kidnapped women stories calling for an official response and serious actions to be taken to protect them.

One thread contained names of seven Coptic women who have been missing and allegedly kidnapped. Some of them had announced their conversion to Islam shortly after they went missing, which may have come under durress. 

The stories are leading to a mounting undercurrent of concern in the international community.

The kidnapping incidents were first believed to be separate isolated incidents, however, with the rising number of missing girls, the World Watch Monitor confirmed it is becoming more of a recurring phenomenon carried out by terrorist groups targeting the country’s minority.

Weighing up the latest incidents that had been carried out against Copts in Egypt, some might attribute it to the rise of extremism in the Middle East. It is also related to the latest terrorist attacks carried out in Egypt and the Egyptian state’s low regard for religious freedom and other fundamental rights.

The issue of religious discrimination in Egypt does exist and religious minorities are still facing significant threats of terrorist attacks and sectarian violence in the country despite all attempts to renew religious discourse and challenge the ideology of extremists.

Read More: No Christians Here: Are Egyptian Football Players Facing Religious Discrimination?

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