Egyptian Police Protect Coptic Girl's Kidnappers
Christian Father Denied Access to Teenage Daughter

by Barbara G. Baker

ISTANBUL, October 27 (Compass) -- An Egyptian Coptic Christian teenager
kidnapped a month ago by Muslims who claim she's converted to Islam is being
refused direct access to her Christian family, her elder brother near Cairo
asserted today.

Ingy Nagy Edwar, 19, is reportedly being held against her will by a Muslim
couple in the Haram district of Giza governate, adjacent to Cairo. State
security police officials temporarily detained her father and other male
relatives a few days after her disappearance, showing them an alleged
declaration of conversion to Islam signed by the girl.

According to Nagy Edwar Nagy, his sister disappeared on September 27, the day
after she had celebrated her 19th birthday at their family home in
El-Maryouteya El-Haram.

The girl was last seen by her father, who sent her off from the local bus
station to visit an aunt living in Cairo's Heliopolis district. When she never
arrived, her family discovered the girl's mobile telephone had been turned off.
They began to search for her.

"We called all of our family members and her friends to ask about her, but in
vain," Nagy said. "For two days we searched for her in the hospitals, from Giza
to Heliopolis."

Finally, on the evening of September 28, Nagy went to report her disappearance
at the local police station, where he said he was treated very rudely. The
police forced him to wait four hours until they registered his report. Then he
was told he had to come back the next day for the official document number.

Dismayed at the authorities' response, Nagy's father, Edwar Nagy Sedra, went
himself to the police to report that his daughter was missing. "But he was
treated in a very bad way, given that he is a 65-year-old man," his son said. A
retired English teacher and school vice-principal, the father was detained
overnight on accusations of trying to interfere with his daughter's conversion
to Islam.

Sedra was shown his daughter's conversion declaration, No. 16289 for 2003, in
the El-Omraneya administrative office. The police also produced written
complaints, one signed by Ingy and another by Abdel Gaber Abdel Moteleb
Mohammed Kandyl, rejecting any attempted interference by her father in the girl
's decision to become a Muslim. Ingy is believed to be staying in the home of
Abdel Gaber and his wife.

Although Sedra's nephew and son-in-law who had accompanied him to the police
station were released, they had their identity cards confiscated. They were
ordered to report to the prosecutor's office the next day, where the case was
transferred to the State Security Directorate.

That same day, the Giza State Security Directorate held a hearing on the girl's
case, producing Ingy dressed in an Islamic veil. "She was not in a normal
 mood," Nagy stated. "When we started crying, she was laughing hysterically."

During the session, Ingy's father and other relatives present were treated by
the authorities as suspects under accusation, rather than plaintiffs in the
case, Nagy said.

During a second hearing on October 18, two Coptic priests were present to ask
Ingy about her alleged decision to convert to Islam, as required under Egyptian
law. But the girl did not come, sending word instead that she was very sick,
bleeding from her nose and mouth.

Ingy's family believes the girl is being given drugs which affect her moods,
"making her personality different from what we know," Nagy said. During the
first two weeks of October, Ingy's family spoke to her by phone several times,
confirming this suspicion. "In each phone call, she was in a different mood,"
Nagy said. "Sometimes she was very aggressive, which is inconsistent with her
normal personality, and some other times very quiet."

Nagy stated that his youngest sister had been afflicted by "an unstable
psychological status" since their mother's death two years ago. "She had a
good, loving relationship with the whole family," which Nagy said included two
older sisters, "but she was deeply attached to our mother." The girl had been
living alone with her father and Nagy since the second of her sisters married
last year and moved to Cairo.

"There is no reason or legal pretext under which she could be permitted to stay
at this Muslim man's house," her brother stated. "And which law says that her
own parent is not allowed to see her?"

Under Egyptian civil law, a daughter under the age of 21 cannot change her
religion or marry without the legal permission of her father.

"We are not asking for anything except our right to a fair application of the
law," Nagy said. "How can the police and the state security officials enforce
such a case, when all these procedures are illegal?" he questioned.

A third hearing on Ingy's case has been set for Saturday, November 1, when her
father will press for his parental rights to regain custody of his daughter.

"She told me by phone she wants to commit suicide," Nagy told Compass last
week. "She is going through a hard, hard time."

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