CAIRO, Egypt -- Recent attacks against churches are driving thousands of Egyptian Christians to seek asylum in the West.
Many of them are women who fear they are targets for abduction, forced conversion, and forced marriage by Muslims.
CBN News traveled to Cairo to investigate the trafficking of young Egyptian Christian women.
The Abduction of Mary
Magda Kaiser, a Coptic Christian, is distraught over her missing daughter, Mary.
"She was our only daughter, so we spoiled her," she explained. "She got whatever she wanted, but she was very shy."
"We were close friends," Kaiser continued. "She never went anywhere without me. She always asked me to go with her because she was afraid of being alone, by herself."
Mary, an exceptional student, won mathematical achievement awards. At the age of 19, she entered university to study pharmacology. That's where she befriended a Muslim classmate.
One night when the two women went out together for pizza and a movie, Mary suddenly fell ill. Friends last saw her entering a taxi.
"We knew she was missing because she didn't come home that night," Kaiser said. "We believe her Muslim friend put drugs in her food and hired people who abduct young Christian girls to kidnap her."
A day later, police informed Mary's family they had located her not far from Cairo, in the town of Kerdasa. They said Mary had converted to Islam and had married a Muslim vendor.
Magda and her husband suspected foul play. They believed their daughter had become a victim of a vast, Islamic human trafficking network - one targeting young Christian women.
"All this was coordinated between the government, police, the Wahhabis, Salafis. Everyone was in on it," Kaiser said.
Officials summoned Mary to the police station where her father waited to see her.
"Four veiled ladies and four bearded men walked in to the police station, accompanied by two policemen with machine guns," Kaiser recalled.
"As they walked by, my husband screamed out our daughter's name, 'Mary!' As Mary turned around to acknowledge him, one of the bearded men pushed her away and punched her in the face," she said.
Overcome by rage, Mary's father demanded to talk to his daughter. The police refused and ordered him to leave.
They said they closed the case because Mary was now a Muslim.
The Kaiser home used to be one of much joy, laughter, and happiness. But five years after Mary's disappearance, her bed remains empty.
The emotional hurt still lingers. Her family said that she was a devout Christian - there's no way she would have willingly embraced Islam.
A Common Occurrence
Abduction cases like Mary's are now common place in Egypt.
A new study found the number of disappearances and abduction of Egyptian Christian girls is increasing. Kidnappings of underage females and mothers of young children are also on the rise.
George Washington University professor Michele Clark is one of the authors of the study. She testified recently before the Helsinki Commission, debunking arguments that suggest Christian girls are leaving their faith and families simply for romance.
"They say yes to friendship, romance, to hope, a future, safety and security. Nevertheless, (they) did not consent to being ripped from their family without ever being able to see them again," she said.
Nor, she added, did these Christian women consent to being forcibly converted to a religion other than their own, or consent to a life of captivity.
Expert: US Must Intervene
So, what should be done? Middle East analyst Walid Phares said the Obama administration must openly discuss the matter with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.
"The perpetrators in Egypt must know from the media, from public discussion, that our officials are demanding from the president of Egypt and demanding from the future, or current parliament, that these issues be at the table, that the constitutional committee that is looking at the future constitution take in consideration these elements," Phares told CBN News.
Clark also said the Egyptian government needs to create a national registry documenting the disappearance of minors.
"The Egyptian government will request an annual accounting of all cases of disappearances, including open and ongoing cases as well as prosecutions that resulted from these investigations," she said.
Meanwhile, Egyptian leaders are still debating the possibility of imposing a strict interpretation of shariah on the society, law that tolerates forced conversion and forced marriage for non-Muslim women.
As for Magda Kaiser, she said she will not give up searching for her daughter.
"She will still be my daughter no matter what happens to her," Kaiser said. "I will keep trying to get her back. I believe in God's promises and I trust the Lord will never forsake us."
"And I ask everybody to pray for us," she continued. "I am confident the day will come when I will see her or meet her again."
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Source: CBN News