Christian Girl Kidnapped to Force Father to 'Reconcile'

The daughter of a Coptic man was recently kidnapped in Egypt to force her father to agree to a "reconciliation" session with the families of the men who murdered her brother, reported a Coptic advocacy group.

Amal Estephanos, 19, was reportedly abducted in broad daylight on Sept. 12 by a Muslim man named Ibrahim Ali Negan, Free Copts reported. The abduction, the Coptic father said, was witnessed by several people.

"With this abduction, they want to humiliate me, and force me to cave into their reconciliation efforts," he told the persecution news agency. But Estephanos has refused to give in.

Instead of succumbing, the Coptic man has appealed to President Hosni Mubarak with the message, "I want my daughter back. It is enough what happened to my son Amir, whose blood is not yet dry."

The incident has surprisingly received intervention from the State Security, which has detained the kidnapper's family until the teen girl is released. The rare government assistance may be due to the complaint of a member of the Egyptian advisory council who said the abduction was a "blow" to his reconciliation effort.

Nineteen-year-old Amal is said to have been taken to the southern Egyptian city of Aswan and held by an organization that forces Copts to convert to Islam.

In April, her older brother Amir, 22, and his friend Adib Hedra Soliman, 22, were murdered after attending a worship service on Easter eve. A Muslim family who had a conflict with the Soliman family stopped the two young men. Though Estephanos was not involved in the family feud, he and his friend were the target of some 70 bullets. A third Christian friend with them was seriously injured and later lost an arm and leg due to the shootings.

While the case is being heard by the Criminal Court of Qena, there has been pressure from the State Security for the families on both sides to reconcile.

The so-called "reconciliation sessions," however, is no more than a front by the State Security to force Copts to forfeit their rights to press criminal charges, Copts have complained. The Christian community in Egypt has long demanded the government to end the "reconciliation sessions," which always result in the Coptic side dropping the charges.

Christians make up about 10 percent of the population in Egypt. The remaining population is Muslim.

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