The Bishopric of Maghagha and al-Edwa in Minya has issued a statement urging the Ministry of Interior to intervene in order to put an end to the missing Christian women and underage girls. The statement which was signed by Father Ezra Fangary Matta and Father Aghathon Talaat Naguib in their capacity as deputies to the bishop, called the authorities to allow the reinstatement of the Advice and Guidance Sessions which were common for decades until 2004 when they were banned by the State. The Advice and Guidance sessions were informal meetings, held under the auspices of the security authority, between Christians who wished to convert and a priest or minister, in order to make sure that Christians who were converting to Islam were doing so by their own free will.
The statement issued by the Bishopric of Maghagha said that the number of Christian women and underage girls who had gone missing lately has been on the rise, which has had its toll on Christian family life, social peace and national unity. “We thus demand to restore the Advice and Guidance sessions that have had a positive impact on such social issues for decades on end,” the statement said. It also pointed out that since these sessions were discontinued a few years ago, issues regarding the disappearance of Coptic women and girls got out of hand in various places, but especially in Maghagha and al-Edwa. Families of missing women and girls and the Church have time and again resorted to the authorities in order to apply the law, but to no avail, the statement pointed out.
The statement referred to the case of Hanaa’ Saad Fawzi who left her home with her daughter Muhrail in al-Edwa on 8 April. Saad Fawzi Fouad, Hanaa’s father reported that his daughter and granddaughter went missing, and accused a specific man of kidnapping them. Saad Fawzi died of a heart attack a day later, the statement pointed out.
The statement issued by the Bishopric said that the family of Hanaa’ and the Church have pleaded with the authorities to intervene, especially after Hanaa’s husband, Romani Makram Naguib said that his wife has called him for help. Naguib said that his wife informed him that she and her daughter were being held, and their captors had forced her to sign a blank paper.
Some seven Coptic women and girls have been reported missing during the last month alone.
For opinion on Advice and Guidance sessions:
1 May 2018