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Clashes break out at Egyptian church over kidnapping rumours

Tense scenes at church in Aswan as angry protesters demand return of Muslim girl they say was kidnapped, with similar situation seen in Beni Suef

Ahram Online, Thursday 28 Feb 2013
church
The Coptic Orthodx Church of Alexandria (Photo: Reuters)
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Clashes have broken out between hundreds of locals outside a church in the city of Kom Ombo in Aswan on Thursday, as reports circulated that a 37-year-old Muslim woman had been kidnapped and forced to convert to Christianity.

The family of the woman, who had been missing for three days when her family were told of her presence in Mar Girgis Church, accuse the church of kidnapping her and forcing her to embrace Christianity. Other eyewitness accounts say that the woman converted of her own free will.

Security forces have formed a human shield around the church, while locals from Kom Ombo have blockaded railway tracks and are throwing stones at the building.

At the time of going to press, teargas was being fired by security forces, and there were reports of clashes between Copts who were protecting the church and local Muslims who were throwing rocks.

“We as Copts will stand by the security and the family of the girl to find her and avoid strife,” Father Johannas Rzeiq of the Mar Girgis church told Al-Ahram Arabic news website, prior to the outbreak of the clashes.

Also on Thursday, in the town of Al-Wasta in the central governorate of Beni Suef, members of the Salafist Nour Party and El-Gamaa El-Salafaya (the Salafist Group) gathered in front of the police station to protest the alleged kidnapping of a 20-year-old Muslim woman who they claim was forced to convert to Christianity.

The Salafist protesters demanded the woman be returned to her family within three days.

According to reports, the girl had been missing for almost week. Her family found a number of Christian books in her personal library, which led them to suspect church-involvement in her disappearance.

Following the January 25 revolution, several sectarian incidents occurred in which Salafists besieged churches in cases related to conversion.

In May 2011, clashes erupted in Cairo after a rumour spread among Salafists that a Christian woman who had allegedly converted to Islam was being held hostage at a church in Imbaba in Cairo.

The clashes left at least twelve dead and over 50 injured. Two churches were burnt down. 

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Sam Enslow
03-03-2013 05:03am
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God's Will?
If the girl converted (which is a fact not known), she could not have done so against God's Will. But it seems the Salafi want to determine God's Will. What they are practicing is an insult toward Islam and the result of a hubris that says they have a perfect understanding of God and His Will.
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Vanesa
28-02-2013 07:35pm
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Enough Stupidy
Enough ignorance and stupidity. Whoever wants to convert to Islam, Christianity, Jewdiasm or any other religion, it is their free well and the responsiblity of the family who raises that child if the child is underage. If not underage, then they made a choice. Stop making Islam looking like a bigoted religion with your ignorance. Unless that is what you truly want, then don't blame Asian and Western word who says Islam is not a religion of piece. Enough is Enough.
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tammy
28-02-2013 11:36pm
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enough is enough
Vanesa I totally agree with you, at 37 years old the first woman is old enough to make her own choices and decisions on religion!! just because they found books about christianity in her room DOES NOT MEAN SHE WAS KIDNAPPED & FORCED TO CONVERT TO ANYTHING. It sounds to me like she researched & read & then made a choice of her own free will. Will Egypts radicals ever understand FREEDOM OF RELIGION, FREEDOM OF PERSONAL CHOICE & FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION & SPEECH and what they mean.. YOU CAN NOT FORCE RELIGION & ITS LAW or rules ONTO OTHER PEOPLE OR A WHOLE COUNTRY. That is not and never will be DEMOCRACY.. all the islamists seem to be doing is losing respect very fast from the rest of the world by their actions.. if the islamists cannot show respect & tolerance for other religions how do they think they are going to get respect & tolerance for islam.. all they are doing is giving islam & muslims a very, very bad name all over the world & proving that Islam is not & will never mean peace.. re
Werner Gessner
28-02-2013 09:53pm
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Islam
Islam is and means peace, certain people give Islam a very bad name...
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