The 15-year-old Coptic girl Mariam Ayman Eid who was reported missing some four weeks ago has been found by the police and returned home.
Eid comes from the village of Nassriya in Beni Mazar, Minya, some 250km south of Cairo, where Coptic and rights activists had vocally demanded her return. She had gone missing after she sat for her final exam in her secondary technical school. It was rumoured that she was kidnapped by a young Muslim man; in typical cases Coptic underage women are made to convert to Islam then marry their kidnappers.
Ihab Ramzy, a Coptic lawyer and Minya politician, says that the Child Law in Egypt prohibits anyone under the age of 18 to take such life-changing decisions as marriage or conversion. “Mariam Eid should thus be promptly found and handed to her family,” Mr Ramzy said. “Even if she was not technically ‘kidnapped’, the young man who seduced her is answerable before the law for having seduced a minor.”
“It is not difficult for the police to find the girl,” Mr Ramzy insisted. “If they do not, they should bear all responsibility for any harm that befalls her.”
Eid’s lawyer, Wagdy Halfa, says that the girl’s ‘kidnapping’ had no sectarian undertones; it was a mere romance. “But she is underage,” Mr Halfa says, “so her kidnapper, a driver named Ahmed Gamal, has to answer to the law.”
A similar incident had occurred earlier in the village of al-Gadaat in Girga, Sohag, some 550km south of Cairo, where a Coptic teenager a few weeks shy of her 18th birthday left home with a young Muslim man. Her family reported the matter to the police who duly found her and returned her home. The Muslims in the village attempted a protest on claims that the girl, who goes by the name of Mary, was said to have converted. But the local politicians and security officials were able to contain the matter, stressing the illegality of any alleged conversion.
7 June 2016