In mid-October 2020, it was revealed that 20-year-old Magda Mansur Ilbrahim, who was formerly a devout Christian and who disappeared during her travel to university on October 3, has suddenly reappeared, though much different than she was before her abduction. In a video released just recently, Ibrahim can be seen dressed in Islamic-style clothing and making claims that she had decided to convert to Islam.
This new revelation is suspicious, though it goes without saying. For over a decade, it has been a relatively common occurrence that a Coptic Christian woman in Egypt disappears for weeks to months on end without any communication before suddenly reappearing and suddenly claiming that she willingly renounced Christianity and converted to Islam. However, there is little to no reason to believe that these conversions happened according to their own will. According to Christian Solidarity International and the Coptic Foundation for Human Rights, “cases of abduction, forced conversion and marriage are usually accompanied by acts of violence which include rape, beatings, deprivation of food and other forms of physical and mental abuse..”
Ibrahim’s family, in particular her father, believes that she was abducted rather than having willingly run away- she was in the process of enrolling in the Faculty of Arts in Assuit, Egypt, and had been on her way to drop off some important documentation at the school. To Ibrahim’s family, it seems unreasonable that she would disappear unless she were violently abducted.
Even more shocking is the claim that Ibrahim makes in the new video- that she had actually converted to Islam six years ago, at the young age of 14. However, Ibrahim’s father picked up on a few subtle cues in the video: Ibrahim was speaking unclearly, appeared disoriented, and her face color changed often. At one point, Ibrahim claimed that she had gotten married, and just a few moments later retracted her statement to instead say that she was to be married soon. At another point, she claims that she transferred some money from her bank account to her mother’s, which her father said is false- he believes that her mixed messages were to signal to viewers that she was under duress and coercion. Ibrahim’s father states:
“How am I as a father who is educated and tired? Can I believe this video while I trust my daughter, and in the Badari Center, people are all Muslims and Christians standing with me and testifying to my daughter. How do I believe this video, and Rania Abdel-Masih and the Alexandria girl previously published a video like it, and in the other they came back and knew that it was under pressure and duress, and how I, as a father, was supposed to forget some of my flesh because of a video. As an Egyptian, I have rights. My right to see my daughter and sit with he and make sure she is okay. And if she wants any path, then this is her right, but my right is that I see her as a father and every father and mother who knows what it means…and so I ask the security services, the Minister of Interior and President Sisi to reveal my daughter because I know that she is not safe and she is under pressure. I will never leave my daughter or my right. I say to every honorable father and every mother who feels the value of her children to stand with me until my daughter comes back, this is not a young woman who will have her, this is flesh and blood, and I am a poor person at the door of God, but the value of honor is dear to us. Regarding the video, I am a father and a acquaintance of my daughter, she talks about how she is terrified and her approach is changing. This is the simples of my rights as a citizen. The security moves and reveals my daughter. Is it difficult for the Egyptian police to answer the girl?”