Coptic leaders warn of uptick in kidnappings
At least seven Coptic Egyptian women and girls disappeared in April, sparking fears of a campaign targeting Christians. According to World Watch Monitor and church leaders, the missing include two mothers and five students at secondary schools or universities. Their families believe the kidnappers took the women for forced conversion to Islam and marriage. They publicly criticized police for indifference to their plight.
Christine Lamie, a wife and mother of two, disappeared April 7 following Facebook threats against her. Days later, police told her husband, Bahaa Girgis, that she had willingly converted to Islam. But Girgis and the family’s priest refuse to believe that, insisting “she was pressured and threatened.”
Claire Evans of International Christian Concern said such cases are not unusual. Coptic Solidarity’s Lindsay Griffin said it can be very difficult to verify abductions because of pressure put on Coptic families to retract their statements.
Open Doors reported 15 girls from Minya were kidnapped, forcibly married, and converted to Islam in 2017. Last year, World Watch Monitor interviewed the former member of a kidnapping ring targeting Coptic women that included Egyptian police officers. —Julia A. Seymour
Pakistan minister survives shooting attack
Pakistani Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal remains in stable condition after a gunman shot him as he left a public meeting with constituents on Sunday. Authorities linked the gunman, 22-year-old Abid Hussain, to a hard-line Islamic group. Police arrested Hussain immediately after he shot Iqbal at close range. Mohammad Ameer, the chief physician at the hospital treating Iqbal, said the bullet fractured his right arm and lodged in his abdomen.
Hussain belongs to the Labaik Ya Rasoolallah group, which has pushed for strengthening blasphemy legislation. The group’s leader, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, condemned the attack and said the group called for “an unarmed struggle to bring the prophet’s religion to the throne.” Iqbal belongs to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party, which will wrap up its five-year tenure this month. Pakistan is set to hold parliamentary elections July 15. The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad condemned the attack and wished Iqbal a speedy recovery. —O.O.
German Red Cross worker kidnapped in Somalia
Armed gunmen in war-torn Somalia kidnapped a German nurse after storming into the compound of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the capital, Mogadishu.
The ICRC said in a statement that the gunmen abducted the nurse Wednesday evening. “We are deeply concerned about the safety of our colleague,” said Daniel O’Malley, the ICRC’s deputy head of regulation in Somalia. “She is a nurse who was working every day to save lives and improve the health of some of Somalia’s most vulnerable people.” Police Capt. Mohamed Hussein said authorities arrested several security guards who were present in the compound when the abduction occurred.
The attack is the latest targeting aid workers in the country. On Tuesday, two gunmen shot and killed a Somali World Health Organization employee in a Mogadishu market. In March, a local Red Cross employee died after a bomb attached to his car exploded. —O.O.
Liu Xiaobo’s widow laments house arrest
Liu Xia, the wife of the late Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, told a fellow activist she may die in China if she is not allowed to leave the country. Liao Yiwu, an exiled writer living in Germany, said in an essay that Liu Xia told him she has lost hope of leaving China and said it feels “easier to die than live.” Liao released a recording of the phone call with Liu to highlight her plight. “Using death to defy could not be any simpler for me,” Liu said, according to the essay.
Chinese authorities have kept Liu under close watch and mostly isolated since her husband won the Nobel Prize in 2010 for his activism. She remained under close watch even after her husband died from advanced liver cancer while he was still serving a prison sentence on subversion charges. Officials insist Liu is free to do as she pleases. —O.O.