A young Coptic Christian woman who had been married for two weeks has been missing since disappearing from her school on May 2, sparking fears that she may have been kidnapped.
The woman's disappearance brings to eight the number of Coptic women in Egypt who have gone missing since April this year, according to research by World Watch Monitor (WWM).
Vivian Adel Youssef, 18, from the village of Dafsh in Minya Governorate, married her cousin Hanna Emad on April 19 and moved to his village in Minya. The husband told WWM they had been engaged for two years.
On May 2, Emad drove Vivian to her secondary school (for 16-18 year-old students) in the city of Samalout, so that she could prepare for a forthcoming exam, while Emad left to go shopping and arranged to pick her up later.
He said: 'After I finished my shopping, I called Vivian and asked her to wait for me in front of the school. When I reached the school, I didn't find her there. Her mobile phone was switched off. I searched for her everywhere – in her school, in the nearby streets, in the hospitals of Samalout – but I didn't find her. I checked with her relatives and friends but none of them saw her that day'
The following day on May 3, Emad filed a report on his wife's disappearance at Samalout police station, but according to WWM he has not received any information about her so far. In Egypt, a person cannot be reported missing unless that person's whereabouts have been unknown for more than 24 hours.
The incident follows a number of similar disappearances, sending fear through Egypt's Christian minority communities, according to WWM.
'We love each other very much,' Emad told WWM. 'On the day of our wedding all of us were very happy. After our marriage we spent a very happy time – two weeks.' He said that he did not believe that Vivian would have run away. 'There wasn't any dispute between us. I'm sure that Vivian was kidnapped,' he said.
'She is very religious and has a very strong relationship with God, and she loves me very much,' he added.
The priest of Mar Girgis Coptic Orthodox church in Vivian's village, Fr Basilious Younan, backed up the husband's account. 'Vivian was one of the good members of our church,' he said.
'She told me before that she loved her fiancé Hanna very much, and said good things about him and [said] that she was very happy that she would marry him,' Younan told WWM. Hthe priest added that he had visited Youssef in her new home after the wedding, and said she appeared happy with her husband.
In a separate incident, a 16-year-old Coptic Christian girl, Mirna Malak Shenouda, reported that she had been kidnapped by two women and a man in Aswan, Upper Egypt, but managed to escape, her father Malak Shenouda told WWM.
He said his daughter headed off in the direction of Anba Shenouda Coptic Orthodox church on May 4, and when she did not return an hour later as expected, the family started calling her, but calls to her mobile phone did not connect. According to WWM, priests and young people told Shenouda that Mirna had not been there on that day.
Mirna later told her family that two women and a man on an auto-rickshaw sprayed strong anaesthetics on her face while she was on her way to the church. After kidnapping her, they took the train to Cairo. When Mina awoke on the train, she pretended to be unconscious. When the train stopped at the nearest station, she swiftly got off the train and left her kidnappers behind.
Because her phone had been taken, Mirna rang her family from someone else's phone to inform them where she was, and they came to pick her up.
Bishop Anba Hedra of the Cathedral of Archangel Michael in Aswan telephoned the family to congratulate them on Mirna's safe return, and invited them to the Cathedral to celebrate.
Below is a list provided by World Watch Monitor of other young women to have gone missing since April 2018.
23 April – Mirna Emil Yousef, 20, from Kafr Samari village, Sharkia Governorate, went to Zagazig University for an exam and did not return home. Her family accuses one of Mirna's Muslim classmates of kidnapping her.
15 April – Briskam Raafat Mikhail Maher, a secondary school pupil from Hejaza Kebly village, Qena Governorate, has allegedly been kidnapped by a Muslim man who had purportedly taken part in the kidnapping of her mother 10years before, her family said.
10 April – Meray Girgis Sobhi, a second-year student of Sohag University took a tuc-tuc from in front of her house in Tahta, Sohag Governorate. She was supposed to go to university, then visit a private tutor and return home, but never did, her father told World Watch Monitor.
8 April – Rasha Khalaf Thabet Aziz, a secondary-school pupil from Ezbet Hafez village in Beni Suef Governorate was returning home from a visit to her grandmother on the Orthodox Easter Day, when she was kidnapped. An eyewitness told her family that three masked men had pushed the girl inside their car with force and fled.
8 April – Hoda Atef Ghali Girgis, 18, from Imbaba, Giza Governorate, went to St. Mary and St. Michael's Coptic Orthodox Church for an Easter party. Following the party, she took a tuc-tuc from in front of the church to return home but never did, her father, Atef Ghali Girgis, told World Watch Monitor.
7 April – Christine Lamie, 26, disappeared after being threatened on Facebook by someone she didn't know. Lamie, a mother-of-two from Qalyubia Governorate in north-eastern Egypt, had gone to work at the Civil Status Authority in Banha but never returned, according to her husband, Bahaa Girgis.
5 April – Mary Adly Milad, 40, a mother-of three from Al-Borgaiya village in Minya Governorate took a taxi to return home from work at a private clinic in the city of Minya. She did not return and her mobile phone was switched off, her family said.