Christian Father Arrested for Rescuing Daughter from Muslim Husband

A Coptic Christian man was reportedly arrested, abused and forced to pay a large sum of money for rescuing his 20-year-old daughter from her Muslim husband, who was said to be holding her against her will in Alexandria, Egypt.

Gamal Labib Hanna, along with a few friends, on Oct. 1 went to the apartment where his daughter was being held, according to sources of Compass Direct News. His daughter, Myrna Gamal Hanna, had called her family on Sept. 30 and asked them to save her from her husband.

Her husband, Mohamad Osama Hefnawy, reportedly had attacked the Coptic men with a metal pole during the rescue.

However, Hanna was able to retrieve his only daughter, who is six months pregnant, and hide her at a secret location.

The validity of the marriage between his daughter and Hefnawy is a point of debate because according to Egyptian law a woman under the age of 21 needs the approval of her father, or another male family member if her father is deceased, to marry. The daughter was married at the age of 19 and Hefnawy's father was said to have stood in the place of her father in approving the marriage. She was later converted to Islam by her husband and his father.

Following the rescue, Hefnawy filed a report to the powerful State Security Investigations. The SSI soon arrested various family members related to Hanna, including females, and detained them.

Sources say at least one family member was tortured until Hanna turned himself in. Hanna was also forced to agree to return his daughter to Hefnawy and give him several thousand dollars.

Hanna is now not allowed to talk to his daughter unless it is at a police station and under the supervision of an SSI officer. Phone calls between the father and daughter will also be monitored.

"Cases like this are very common; they happen every day," said Rasha Noor, an Egyptian human rights activist and journalist living outside of Egypt, to Compass. "That's usually what happens when families try to rescue daughters from their kidnappers in most of these kinds of cases."

"Once [a woman] becomes a Muslim, you can't get her back," Noor added.

The case of Hanna followed another kidnapping incident in September when a 19-year-old Coptic girl was abducted by a Muslim man in broad daylight, according to Free Copts. The girl's father said the abduction was meant to pressure him into accepting "reconciliation" with the family members of the Muslim men who had brutally murdered his 22-year-old son in April.

Copts say the "reconciliation" sessions are nothing more than a front by the State Security to force Christians to forfeit their rights to press criminal charges.

Compared to previous years, there have been an increased number of reports on the kidnapping of Coptic girls by Muslim men in Egypt. Little if anything is done by the government to enact justice for Copts. Most of the time, authorities harass them so that they would give up filing the report.

Christians make up about 10 percent of the population in Egypt. The rest of the population is composed of Muslims, mostly Sunni.