Friday, February 28, 2014

Child Kidnappings on the Rise in Egypt

ASHRAF RAMELAH February 28, 2014
Child kidnappings on the rise in Egypt: Rape and ransom phenomenon sweeping Egypt
On February 13, 12 year-old Yosef Hassan Shaker left his home in Abu Teshet, a small town in Upper Egypt, with his elementary school classmate and friend. Together they planned to head to school to see what grade they made on the midterm examinations. Yosef's grade was a high score of 96, but he would never live to hear this good news. His trusted school friend and neighbor used the pretense of checking grades to lure him into his house so that two older boys could take Yosef captive, strangle him to death and throw his body into a small creek just a few yards from Yosef's home.
To avoid suspicion, his killers searched for Yosef for six days alongside Yosef's other neighbors and family members while requesting a ransom of 200,000 Egyptian pounds for Yosef's return. His killers, two older Muslim boys in their 20's, plotted this kidnapping based on their knowledge of Yosef's father who worked away in Kuwait and was believed to have earnings enough to pay a ransom for his son.

Egypt's depleted economy - further deteriorated from the revolutionary strife of the past three years, government failure and lack of law enforcement -- has been the catalyst for criminal schemes such as this one gone sour. It mostly pays off and has been on the increase - Muslim against Muslim, neighbor against neighbor, Muslim against Christian. In 2013 in Upper Egypt, four children in Qena and seven children in Nag Hammadi, all less than 10 years old, were abducted.
After the January 2011 uprising child kidnappings rose 90 percent
Only 30 percent of abduction cases are reported in a timely manner, according to the most recent statistics used by Al-Ahram.  The majority, 70 percent of all cases, entail delayed reporting to authorities out of fear that the victim might be murdered because of police involvement. In the majority of uninterrupted occurrences families responded affirmatively to the demands of the ransom.

According to the state-run newspaper, Al Ahram, 88 percent of all abductions committed are not planned targets but spurred randomly out of the chaos of the streets and, most of the time, entail attempts to extort money from families unable to pay. Ninety-five percent of kidnappings include foreign tourists and businessmen, Egyptian and foreign traders, and Coptic Christians - all demanding higher ransoms than the average Egyptian. 
One to two million orphans live in Egypt's city streets throughout the country
Egypt has always lacked the social services necessary to support abandoned children produced by "prostitutes" allowed to practice by means of Islamic "Travel Nekah." Beginning in Sadat's era, Arab-Muslims visiting Egypt were permitted to enter into a "marriage" contract of a temporary duration with any interested woman. Many impoverished women utilized this official short-term travel marriage by receiving money for sex until the contract ended and the foreigner left Egypt. Fulfilling all the demands of Islamic law, such practice led to unwanted births and abandoned newborns in the street. Added to this population of street children were more children abandoned due to high divorce rates caused by easy Islamic divorces during more recent times under Mubarak which forced women and children into poverty conditions.
Homeless, marginalized street youths make easy recruits for terror activity
It is an alarming prospect to think that in 2013 alone more than 18,000 combined felonies and misdemeanors were committed by Egypt's homeless street youth population - a potential terrorist feed. Most recently, the Muslim Brotherhood solicited street youth for the burning of the Cairo Scientific Complex on December 16, 2011 when Egypt and the world lost more than 200,000 unique historic books. After the fall of Morsi, Pro-Morsi Brotherhood protests were made up of hired hands from this huge population of disenfranchised youths.
Resolving this serious issue is important for Egypt's stability and efforts in fighting terrorism. The whole world will suffer sooner or later due to what we see today in Egypt -- street inhabitants prey to Islamist doctrine and activism. International intervention addressing Egypt's orphans and homelessness is practically non-existent. Contributing Editor Ashraf Ramelah is founder and president of Voice of the Copts, a human rights organization drawing attention to the suffering of Coptic Christians in Egypt and educating as to the chilling effect of Sharia (Islamic law).   

1 comment:

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