The Bishopric of Samalout, Minya, in whose parish lies the village of Gabal al-Teir, has issued an appeal to the media to “close the file” of the case of the Coptic woman who had gone missing for 25 days then returned to her family last Friday 26 September. A statement by the Bishopric confirmed that Iman Sarofim has returned of her own free will and is now happily reunited with her family. The statement called on the media to close that file for the sake of “social peace”, and to respect that all the necessary legal proceedings are taking place through the proper official channels.
Escape from captors
In what amounted to a totally unexpected move, Sarofim who comes from the village of Gabal al-Teir in Minya, Upper Egypt, and who had gone missing for 25 days, returned to her family. The 39 year-old mother of five called her husband from Suez and said that she had fled her captors. Her family rushed to bring her back and she was welcomed in the village with joyful celebration.
Ms Sarofim claims that she was seduced by their family friend, [the Muslim] Samy Ahmed al-Gilfi who offered to give her a ride on an errand she was doing, then took her out of the village and travelled to Suez where she was kept in a flat with a fully veiled woman. She says Gilfi had three men with him. On Friday 26 September, the Muslims left the apartment for Friday noon prayers; she managed to escape and called her family who rushed to her rescue. Ms Sarofim denies she ever converted to Islam as claimed by Interior Minister Muhammad Ibrahim who said a conversion certificate had been issued by al-Azhar.
Lawyer and activist Ihab Ramzy told Watani that the missing woman’s ID may have been used by her captors to fake a conversion. In such cases, Mr Ramzy says, a face-veiled woman might have impersonated her.
The story goes back to some three weeks ago when Ms Sarofim was reported missing. Since the woman is no minor, it is impossible for the police to force her back home. Sarofim’s family and their neighbours and friends in Gabal al-Teir saw this as police failure and demonstrated in front of the police station. The protest turned violent when the Copts attacked the station with stones and Molotov cocktails, damaging two police trucks. Nine men were injured, among them three policemen. The police used tear gas to disperse the protestors.
In the late evening, the police broke into the homes of villagers suspected of the morning attack. They avenged themselves brutally by breaking furniture, robbing belongings, terrorising women and children, and leading the men out tied with ropes and pulled through the village streets as though they were beasts of burden. To say nothing of the horrible insults and abuse they used against the villagers. Some 35 men were caught, but 23 were directly released and 12 detained. The 12 were released last Tuesday, but none of the policemen was charged with any violation till last Wednesday when the prosecution ordered an investigation into the matter.
28 September 2014