Reports of kidnapping being used as a tool to intimidate and extort Christians by various Islamic militants appear to be spreading. This article from the Christian Science Monitor highlights the disturbing trend in Egypt's troubled Minya province, where more than 100 victims have been kidnapped in recent days. The primary motive for the kidnappings appears to be financial, as victims are held for ransom at the demand for thousands of dollars. Of interesting note is the author's reason as to why Christians are targeted compared to other groups:
"Christians are targeted because they do not have tribes or families who retaliate, unlike many Muslims in southern Egypt. As a tight-knit minority community, they are also perceived as able to raise large sums of money from friends and relatives for ransoms. And in Egypt, crimes against Christians have long gone routinely unpunished, fueling an environment of impunity."
Effectively, the vulnerability of the Christian community and their inability and/or unwillingness to retaliate is being leveraged by militants for their financial gain.
In Syria, kidnappings have played a significant role in the intimidation of Christians in the Syrian war. Two prominent Orthodox bishops were abducted in April. Recently, a group of 12 nuns were said to have been abducted from the town of Maaoula, one of the last remaining places on earth where Aramaic is spoken, the language of Jesus.
A July 15, 2013 report in the National Catholic Register called the kidnapping of Christians "a growth industry":
"Kidnapping Christians reportedly has become a growth industry. In late February, the website Ora pro Siria, operated by Italian missionaries in Syria, launched an emergency fundraising appeal called "Ransom a Christian." The website said the going price for a kidnapped priest was in the neighborhood of $200,000."
In November, near the Nigerian border, a French priest was kidnapped in the country of Cameroon and is currently being held by terrorist group Boko Haram. Boko Haram has wreaked havoc upon Nigerian believers with acts of anti-Christian violence and terror. Recently, a 19 year-old girl escaped after being kidnapped and held captive by the group. Repeatedly, the girl was encouraged to convert or die. This appears to be part of a larger, more sinister plot, to strike fear in the hearts of Christians.
The kidnapping of Christians by Islamic militants in these regions of conflict highlights the tragic levels of intimidation and violence many believers are facing in these regions.
For today's #DoSomethingFriday, please join the Institute in praying for God's peace in these many regions of great conflict. Pray that believers in these areas would be strengthened by God's presence and comforted in the midst of great evil. Pray that fear would not reign in their hearts, but instead, the miracle of God's joy might be known and experienced in these dark times.
Finally, pray for the victims and their families who have been kidnapped. Pray for the safe return of the many who remain captive, and for the comfort of those left behind.