By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
CAIRO, EGYPT (BosNewsLife)– There was uncertainty Tuesday, June 23, about the situation of two Egyptian Christians who were detained for a month following a Muslim outcry over the rescue of a kidnapped Coptic Christian girl.
Clashes broke out last month in the village of Toma, near El-Mahalla El-Kubra in the middle of the Nile Delta, when local Muslims reportedly attacked Copts who managed to free 16-year-old Nermeen Mitry.
In a statement released by the Free-Copts Organization, Mitry said she was drugged by a Muslim friend and kidnapped on May 21. When she awoke, she was in a house in Zagazig, a city in the eastern Nile Delta, and a bearded Muslim man was allegedly trying to convert her to Islam. He was later found to be Essam Abu Deiof Hamoud, a relative of the girl who allegedly drugged Mitry.
“The man was very confident and told me that I would be the fourth Coptic girl to ‘know the true Allah’ and convert to Islam through him.”
He also said “that a member of my family was converted 15 years ago by him,” Mitry added. “I told him I am engaged to be married when I come of age, and would never convert to Islam as this would be a catastrophe for me. He did his best to make me change my mind, and then left me alone for a while.”
She was apparently rescued soon after, prompting Muslims to attack Copts, Egyptian Christians said.
Some 150 Muslims allegedly attacked five of Mitry’s family members as they drove home to their village following her rescue. Police reportedly detained 14 Muslims and 11 Copts. Most of them were released, but two Muslims and two “randomly” selected Copts remained detained, Copts said.
There names were not immediately released, but locals told reporters that they believe the detainees would be held for at least 45 days by security forces.
State security officials have reportedly denied wrongdoing , saying the violence in the village of 2,000 people was sparked by news of Mitry’s engagement to local Muslim youth Hossam Hamouda.
The tensions have underscored international worries about reports of kidnappings in Egypt. “Reports of kidnappings and the forced conversion of Christian girls to Islam are common among Egypt’s Coptic community,” said Open Doors, an advocacy group supporting Christians persecuted for their faith.
Coptic leaders have reportedly said that Islamic militants in Egypt are determined to halt the spread of Christianity, by converting Coptic girls and driving out their families from villages. In recent years violence also spread to the capital Cairo and the Nile Valley, where Coptic women have apparently disappeared.
Egyptian media have reported some 40 kidnapping cases last year alone. Most of Egypt’s Christian minority are Copts, who comprise at least nine percent of Egypt’s mainly Muslim population of over 83 million, according to the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), although Coptic organizations say that figure may be higher.