The family of an 18-year-old Egyptian Christian woman who is believed to have been kidnapped by a Muslim radical have criticized police for failing to take action against an alleged suspect who has admitted involvement.
The Christian woman, Hanan Adly Girgis disappeared from her family's home in Esna, a village in Upper Egypt, when some of her brothers returned during the night. After a search failed to find Hanan, her brothers and their lawyer made a formal complaint to the police, accusing a neighbor, Mohamed Ahmed Nubi Soliman, 27, of her kidnapping.
Prosecutors summoned Soliman, and while he admitted a connection with the incident, he was released due to lack of physical evidence.
A national security investigation was ordered, but, according to the Girgis family's lawyer, Barsoum Wahba, there has been no progress with the case, despite protests outside the police station by friends and family of Hanan, and authorities have shown little interest in pursuing an investigation.
"They promised us many times that they would help return Hanan but they have done nothing," Hanan's brother, Romany Adly Girgis, said, according to World Watch Monitor. "We don't know why they don't help us. Is it because we are Christians, or do they connive with kidnappers to take Christian girls to convert to Islam? We accuse them of apathy and complicity."
"There is a state of police indifference towards the case of Hanan," added lawyer Barsoum Wahba. "They did nothing to help the brothers...They said 'give us two days and we will bring her back,' but these are words without actions. They aren't serious even though they know they have the capability to know where Hanan is and who kidnapped her.
"Because the victim is a Christian girl we see inaction. It is a farce. We want people to deal with us as human beings and not deal with us as second-class citizens. We feel we have no rights."
Romany explained why he thinks the neighbors kidnapped Hanan: "Our neighbor, Mohamed Ahmed Nubi Soliman, told us he saw a Tuk-Tuk [small taxi] stop next to our home at midnight and saw two men carry something to it. We think this neighbor is one of the kidnappers because he hates us, and, when we asked him about who the people with the Tuk-Tuk were, he wouldn't answer."
He added that Soliman has often caused trouble for the Girgis family, alleging he's also involved in illegal activities.
He said the family is certain Hanan was abducted, as she had no reason to suddenly leave home: "There was no disagreement between us, she was very happy. She was engaged to a man she'd chosen to be with. They had planned to go and buy jewelry together the following day; and she had just bought new clothes for her cousin's wedding on Sunday."
He added that her clothes, jewelry, ID card and birth certificate were still in her room: "If she had run away she would have taken them with her."
The brothers found one of Hanan's slippers near the door and believe she was taken while she was still in her pajamas. They explained that if she had left intentionally, she would have first gotten dressed.
Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of more than 90 million people, have long complained of discrimination in the predominantly Muslim country.
Currently, the country ranks 21st on Open Door USA's World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution.
As reported by The Gospel Herald, the case against three Muslim men accused of dragging an elderly Christian woman through the streets in Cairo was only recently reopened amid public outrage. Last month, charges were dropped against the three men over a reported lack of evidence, despite a public apology from the President and the 70-year-old woman, Soad Thabet, identifying the three men, according to World Watch Monitor.
However, authorities continued to prosecute her son for allegedly having an affair with a Muslim neighbor's wife, as adultery is illegal in Egypt and there are laws against relationships between Christian men and Muslim women.
At the time, Thabet said, "I feel let down for a second time. I feel that nobody is standing by our side."
She added, "I was hoping that they will be punished. The people who comfort me say that Jesus was himself stripped naked. Now, I complain only to God, and hope he brings justice. Is there anyone stronger than God?"
In a statement, Nancy Okail, Executive Director of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP), said the inability or unwillingness of police to promptly intervene in such cases infringes on the rights of the victims, allows perpetrators to evade justice, and may enable additional sectarian violence throughout Egypt.
"The authorities' failure to address this sectarian attack in a timely manner is deeply troubling as it allows the perpetrators of these acts to continue committing them with impunity," she said. "Moreover, such inaction contributes to a deficiency in governance that serves as fertile ground for greater instability."