For the eighth day in succession, Copts in the Beni Sweif town of Wasta have been forced to close their shops in retaliation against the disappearance of the young Muslim woman Rana al-Shazli
For the eighth day in succession, Copts in the Beni Sweif town of Wasta have been forced to close their shops in retaliation against the disappearance of the young Muslim woman Rana al-Shazli.
Shazli, a student at Beni Sweif University, left her home one month ago. Her family allege she has been tricked into converting to Christianity, and blame the Church for hiding her. The town has been seeing demonstrations against the Copts and the Church ever since, even though the Muslim town elders have been exerting huge efforts to limit actions that target the Copts and their Church which has been constantly repeating it had nothing to do with the disappearance of Shazli.
Shazli had sent her parents letters saying she had left because of domestic problems which they well knew about, had married a Muslim, and left the country. She had been subject to sexual abuse by her uncle while yet in school and, prior to her disappearance, had been pressured by her family to marry someone against her will. Shazli posted her letters, handwritten, online.
Shazli’s father, however, together with the Salafis in Wasta, insisted that she had been the victim of black magic by Fr Maqar of Mar-Girgis’s; that she had converted to Christianity and was still in the country. No amount of persuasion by Fr Maqar could convince them this was not true.
The escalating campaign against the town Copts is led by Shazli’s uncle. Following Friday prayers, the Shazlis announced through the mosque microphone that Coptic-owned shops will not be allowed to open till Shazli resurfaced, even if this took a full year. They asked Muslim women not to work for Coptic employers.
The Copts are feeling the pinch. One shopowner who asked for his name to be withheld said that the closure of Coptic-owned shops only served the interests of their competitors. “We normally buy our goods wholesale on credit. Closure means we can never meet our payments. Is this an attempt to throw us all in prison for no crime we committed?”
24 March 2013