By BosNewsLife Middle East Service with reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos
CAIRO, EGYPT (BosNewsLife)– Christian women who refuse to embrace Islam are facing abductions and attacks in Egypt, despite the government vowing to boost security and protect the country’s Christian minority.
More than a month after she went missing, Christians still search for 22-year-old Suzan Ashraf Rawy who disappeared last month while walking to the church where she works in Egypt.
Local Christians fear she is kidnapped, like two other young women who suddenly vanished from the same Cairo suburb just days before.
The situation is especially difficult in the Christian town of Al Khosous near Cairo, the capital, BosNewsLife established.
Christian women “are now too frightened to leave their houses” and a women’s meeting at Suzan Ashraf Rawy’s church was canceled, Christian said.
Also, several local women have had acid thrown in their faces for not wearing veils as required under the strict interpretation of Islam, according to Christians familiar with the situation.
The suspected abductions follow a recent incident in which a Muslim was reportedly accidentally shot and killed during a dispute over money. A Christian man was taken into police custody and is expected to face charges of manslaughter.
Since then, there has been a sharp increase in attacks on Christians — especially innocent women — in Al Khosous, Christians say.
“We need to pray for peace to prevail and that the people behind the abductions and the attacks be stopped,” said an area Christian leader whose name was not revealed amid security concerns.
Christians across Egypt remain under intense pressure. Eshhad, a project by the Cairo-based Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy which tracks persecution of Egypt’s Copts, found 36 examples of persecution in 2017 alone, including beheadings and targeted violence.
In one of the bloodiest recent incidents, Islamic militants in May shot dead at least 28 Christians whom they pulled off a bus in Minya Province.
Earlier in April, church bombings took place in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria following a suicide bombing in Cairo last December killing scores of people and injuring many more.
Egypt’s Christians, mainly known as Copts, comprise about 10 percent of the population of about 92 million, making them the largest Christian community in the Middle East.
The attacks have put additional pressure on Egypt’s government which recently conducted six airstrikes on jihadi training camps in the Libyan town of Derna in response to the Minya bus attack.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Minya bus attack, while the Mujahideen Shura Council, an al-Qaida group affiliate that controls the area of Derna, denied involvement saying it was “not its policy” to target civilians.