CAIRO: Two kidnapped Copts were released late Wednesday in Qena, days after their families threatened to block the railway in protest of what was described as a recurring crime.
Hundreds of Copts in the Upper Egyptian City of Naga’ Hammadi had declared a plan for a series of protests demanding security forces to work on solving the mystery surrounding the kidnapping of Mina Nashat and Girguis Dawood, 17, who were held for a ransom of LE 300,000.
The two men were released in a remote farm late Wednesday. They said they didn’t know where they were held.
Bishop Kirullus of Naga Hammadi told Daily News Egypt that there will be no Christmas celebrations at the church this year with only religious rituals as a form of protest against the kidnappings.
"Numbers of Copts abducted reached 11, nine of them were let go after paying the ransom, while the remaining two are still held," Kirullus said, adding that the celebrations will be only religious sermons.
Kirullus expressed concern over some threats the church had received. "There is security vacuum in general and Copts are specifically targeted. Armed Forces should protect churches during Christmas celebrations," he said.
One of the most well-known incidents was the abduction of Dr. Magdy Helmy Adib and pharmacist Michael William who were let go after paying a ransom worth LE 30,000, Zakariya Milad for a ransom of LE 20,000, Girguis Latif for LE 70,000, and El-Sayed Haroun for LE 30,000.
Hanan Adly, Dawood’s mother, told DNE that her son and his friend were on their way to the Bishop Badaya Monastery when their motorcycle ran out of fuel. They called one of their friends for help. When he arrived, he could not find them and their mobile phones were switched off.
"We received a phone call demanding a ransom worth LE 300,000. It was then cut down to 150,000. We filed a complaint to the prosecution with no results," she said.
The Orthodox Church lawyer Ramsis El-Naggar told DNE that the fears of targeting churches during Christmas celebrations are real and legitimate as the security vacuum continues. He said Copts have been targeted since the Jan. 25 uprising.
"Since the revolution, there have been many kidnapping cases against Copts, especially women, in addition to targeting churches. The decision of Bishop Kirullus shows the level of threats and security vacuum especially in Upper Egypt," El-Naggar said.
El-Naggar said that the security vacuum allowed extremists to move freely which enabled them to easily target Copts.