An Egyptian man has shared horrifying details about how Egyptian authorities are aiding networks of abductors who get paid by Islamic extremists to kidnap unsuspecting Coptic Christian girls, convert them to Islam and marry them off to Muslim men.
In an interview with World Watch Monitor, a former Muslim man known only by the letter "G" admitted that he used to work alongside a Salafist network of kidnappers before he left the Islamic faith.
G explained that although networks like the one that he was involved in have been around since the 1970s, they have now reached an all-time high during the era of Egypt President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
According to G, the kidnappers receive "large amounts of money" from "Islamisation organisations" for carrying out the dirty deed of kidnapping innocent Christian girls so that they can be converted to Islam and married off.
The value of the reward for kidnapping a girl is greater when that girl is from a family of greater social standing or the "daughter of a priest," he added.
"The Salafist group I knew rented apartments in different areas of Egypt to hide kidnapped Coptic girls," G was quoted as saying. "There, they put them under pressure and threaten them to convert to Islam. And once they reach the legal age, a specially arranged Islamic representative comes in to make the conversion official, issue a certificate and accordingly, they change their ID."
Although abductions are illegal, G asserted that kidnappers are often aided by police officers in various ways in exchange for a piece of the financial reward.
"In some cases, police provide the kidnappers with drugs they seize. The drugs are then given to the girls to weaken their resistance as they put them under pressure," G explained. "I even know of cases in which police offered help to beat up the girls to make them recite the Islamic creed."
In a number of instances, G said, kidnappers would deceive Christian girls in order to abduct them.
"A Muslim boy tells a Christian girl he loves her and wants to convert to Christianity for her," G said. "They start a romantic relationship until one day they decide to 'escape' together. What the girls don't know is that they are actually being kidnapped. Most of the time they will not marry their kidnapper, but someone else."
G recalled one girl who was blackmailed into marrying one of her captors.
"I remember a Coptic Christian girl from a rich, well-known family in Minya," G stated. "She was kidnapped by five Muslim men. They held her in a house, stripped her and filmed her naked. In the video, one of them also undressed. They threatened to make the video public if the girl wouldn't marry him."
G stated that if all goes according to plan, girls are "forced into marriage with a strict Muslim." He added that some girls are shipped off to Saudi Arabia and forced to work as domestic slaves.
"Their husbands don't love them, they just marry her to make her a Muslim. She will be hit and humiliated. And if she tries to escape, or convert back to her original religion, she will be killed," G continued. "The most shocking thing is some girls find out that they are a second wife and are treated like animals. Some are sent to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf to work as domestic servants and they are exploited sexually and are seriously physically abused."
World Watch Monitor reports that one Christian girl who was kidnapped and forced into Islamic marriage is a 16-year-old named Marylin from the Minya province, who was lulled in and kidnapped by the "love" deception this past June. Videos have emerged online showing her forced conversion.
"Marilyn was seduced by a recruit of a Salafi organisation. She was involved in a love affair; he was then able to convince her to run away with him," an anonymous researcher told World Watch Monitor. "Marilyn isn't 18 yet. So even if she had agreed to go with Taha, in our law, this is clearly a case of kidnapping a minor."
Although Marylin's parents turned to the police for help, very little help was found.
"I filed a report in two police stations, and I gave the names of the kidnappers and the place where they hid my daughter," Marylin's father, Medhat Saad Edward, told World Watch Monitor. "But the police haven't arrested them. They didn't even get in touch with Taha's brother, who lives in the village and is in touch with Taha."
Boutros Khalaf, the family priest, told World Watch Monitor that the prosecution dropped Marilyn's case on Aug. 14.
"We've done everything we could to get our girl back. We even sent a complaint to President Sisi, the interior minister and many other important people," the priest said. "Her family lives in bitterness and pain, and we don't know what to do anymore."
According to G, "[k]idnappers of Christian girls rarely get arrested or brought to the prosecution."
"For instance, the police don't report it as a kidnap but say the girl 'went missing,'" G explained. "This way they cover up the crimes of those they see as their 'Muslim brothers.'"
Ebram Louis, an Egyptian human rights activist, told World Watch Monitor in 2014 that the police often don't act on Christian families' reports of kidnapping "because they are afraid of the militant groups."
"The police have not helped the families of the kidnapped girls at all," Louis stressed. "Moreover, some police officers told the families not to search for their kidnapped daughters, as they converted to the right religion."
The researcher who spoke with World Watch Monitor noted that kidnappings in Egypt occur on an almost daily basis.
"There is also a state of terror, panic and fear among all the Christians in our village. They worry about their children. No father will allow his daughter to walk on the street alone anymore," Khalaf stated. "He goes with her or sends her mother or brother to accompany her."
Egypt ranks as the 21st worst country in the world when it comes to persecution of Christians, Open Doors USA's 2017 World Watch List states.
This is not the first time Egyptian authorities have been accused of inaction.
Earlier this year when hundreds of Christian families in the Sinai town of El-Arish fled the region after a number of Christians were murdered within a short time span, fleeing Christians expressed outrage that authorities responded apathetically to the security concern of Christians.