A Coptic Christian family is praising God after their 16-year-old daughter, who was abducted by Islamic extremists to be "converted to Islam, then married off or sold," was rescued and returned home.
According to World Watch Monitor, Marilyn was kidnapped in June and returned to her family in September after police found her and arrested her kidnappers in a city just outside Cairo.
Her village priest, Father Boutros Khalaf, told the outlet, "Recently we found out that Marilyn was held in a place in 10th of Ramadan city.... We went to the local police station and they really did their best to reach her and managed to arrest her kidnapper, Taha, and his brother, Gaber, and release Marilyn. She returned back to her family on Saturday, 30 September, after 92 days".
Fr. Khalaf said she had "not been treated well" by Taha and his friends, but she is just "very happy to be back with her family".
"We thank God for answering our prayers and the prayers of many other people," he added.
"And we thank all the policemen in the police station that helped us so much in releasing our daughter, Marilyn. We appreciate their great efforts."
Marilyn was reportedly kidnapped by Taha, a young man she believed to be her boyfriend. After she disappeared, videos surfaced online in which she said she had converted to Islam. In one, she held a Quran; in the other, veiled, she "seemingly repeated what was dictated to her through an earpiece," notes WWM.
Her mother, Hanaa Aziz Shukralla Farag, said her daughter was undoubtedly forced to convert to Islam: "She was holding the Quran as if she was holding a medal," she said. "I see she is under pressure."
In the months following their daughter's disappearance, Marilyn's parents wrote letters to the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the interior minister, and many other high-ranking figures, though it is unknown whether these helped to secure her release.
Over the past several years, dozens of Coptic Christian girls have been kidnapped by Islamic extremists. The advocacy group, Coalition of Coptic Egypt, reported 72 cases of kidnappings, extortion and related violence against the Copts in the province of Qena during the period from 2011 to 2014.
Earlier, a former Muslim in Egypt opened up about how he used to be paid to abduct Christian girls and force them to convert to Islam before marrying them off to Muslim men.
Before leaving Islam, "G," an Egyptian, told World Watch Monitor he was in a network of several thousand men actively targeting Coptic girls for years. Today, that network, funded by "wealthy Muslims," is stronger than ever.
"A group of kidnappers meets in a mosque to discuss potential victims. They keep a close eye on Christians' houses and monitor everything that's going on. On that basis, they weave a spider's web around [the girls]," he said.
After they are kidnapped, the girls are handed over to extremists, who force them to convert to Islam, G said. Once the girls are of legal age, a "specially arranged Islamic representative" makes the conversion official. Then, the girls are given a certificate to legally change their identification cards.
"If all goes to plan, the girls are also forced into marriage with a strict Muslim," he continued. "Their husbands don't love them, they just marry her to make her a Muslim. She will be hit and humiliated. And if she tries to escape, or convert back to her original religion, she will be killed."
The kidnappers, he admitted, are paid handsomely for their efforts.
Earlier this year, ISIS vowed to step up its attacks against Egypt's Christian minority, who account for about 10 percent of the 92 million population