Alexandria, Egypt (AINA) -- At dawn on Saturday, October 3, 2009, Egyptian State Security forces arrested a group of Christian Copts in different parts of the city in Alexandria, after severely assaulting them in front of their neighbors. Their wives were also arrested, but because of intense objection protests by neighbors at the way they were handled and of the screams of their terrified children, they were released. The men who were arrested are relatives of Rafaat Girges Habib, a man who helped a Coptic father free his kidnapped daughter from her Muslim husband's home. The arrests continued until Habib turned himself in to the police.
Egypt4Christ, based in Alexandria, reported that what started this incident was a telephone call on September 30 from Myrna, the only daughter of Coptic accountant Gamal Labib Hanna, in which she begged him to come and save her from her Muslim husband, Mohamad Hefnawy.
Myrna was abducted 10 months ago, forced to convert to Islam and married by a 'customary marriage contract' by Osama Hefnawy to his son Mohammad. Being 19 years old at the time, Myrna was under-age for a girl to be married. According to Islamic Sharia a woman cannot get married before she reaches the age of 21 years; she can only get married before through a mandate from her father or uncles alone. Those requirements can be waived for the benefit of a non-relative only through a court ruling, which was not obtained in Myrna's case.
On their way to free his daughter, the father, together with his brother and brother-in-law, passed by a cafe near St. George's Church, Sidi Bishr, where Rafaat Girges Habib, a plumber who has done jobs in the father's home, volunteered to accompany them to bring Myrna back.
As they went to the apartment where Myrna was held, they were met by Osama Hefnawy, father of Mohamed and five other Muslims, who threatened them. A struggle ensued, and Myrna left with her father. She was taken away to an establishment dealing with abduction cases like hers, especially that it was found out that she was six months pregnant.
Osama Hefnawy immediately filed a report with the police and the State Security Headquarters in Al-Farana, Alexndri downtown. Myrna's paternal uncles were arrested and charged with abduction, together with her father. Myrna's family apartment was broken into and the shop of Rafaat Girges Habib was completely demolished by the police.
Myrna's father was forced to go to the police station to negotiate the release of his relatives and "for matters to be resolved amicably" as he was told by Lieutenant Ahmed Mekki, of the Police Department of Investigation, who contacted him on his cell phone.
Myrna's uncles were forced to go and bring her back to the police station, where she was handed over to Osama Hefnawy. In addition the police took the necessary commitments from her relatives not to harass him. Coptic father Labib was released Friday morning.
Lawyers reported to Egypt4Christ that the arrested Copts were tortured and their clothes were smeared with blood, especially Romany, brother of Rafaat Girges Habib.
By Mary Abdelmassih