A Coptic Christian teen, who was kidnapped by members of the Islamic State in Egypt over the summer, has miraculously been reunited with her family. Marilyn, a 16-year-old from south of Cairo, had been missing since June 28, and it was feared that she would be “converted to Islam, then married off or sold.” But through the tireless work of her family and village priest, authorities were able to track down her captors and secure her release on September 30.
As World Watch Monitor reported, Marilyn’s disappearance followed the troubling yet growing trend in the region. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a former Islamic kidnapper explained how Islamist networks routinely target Coptic girls. They gain the young women’s trust by telling them they love them and want to convert to Christianity.
“They start a romantic relationship until, one day, they decide to ‘escape’ together,” the informant explained. “What the girls don’t know is that they are actually being kidnapped. Most of the time they will not marry their kidnapper, but someone else.”
The former kidnapper explained that the group he was part of “rented apartments in different areas of Egypt to hide kidnapped Coptic girls. There, they put them under pressure and threaten them to convert to Islam. And once they reach the legal age, a specially arranged Islamic representative comes in to make the conversion official, issue a certificate and accordingly they change their ID.”
Marilyn was allegedly tricked in the same way and was kept in an apartment outside Cairo. During her captivity, a video surfaced of her holding a Quran and claiming to have converted to Islam. Her mother, Hanaa Aziz Shukralla Faraq, maintained that her daughter was coerced and only made the statements under duress.
“She was holding the Quran as if she was holding a medal,” she said. “I see she is under pressure.”
In the days and weeks that followed the kidnapping, Marilyn’s family wrote letters to the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the interior minister, and many other high-ranking figures. While it is unclear what, if any, role that played in her release, her village priest, Father Boutros Khalaf, told World Watch Monitor that police were able to locate the teen after confirming she was somewhere within 10th of Ramadan city.
“We went to the local police station and they really did their best to reach her and managed to arrest her kidnapper, Taha, and his brother, Gaber, and release Marilyn,” he explained. “She returned back to her family on Saturday, September 30 after 92 days.”
The priest shared that Marilyn had “not been treated well” by her kipnappers and was “very happy to be back with her family.”
“We thank God for answering our prayers and the prayers of many other people,” he concluded. “And we thank all the policemen in the police station that helped us so much in releasing our daughter, Marilyn. We appreciate their great efforts.”
(H/T: Christian Today)