Egyptian Police Protect Coptic
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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