Copts of al-Mahallah al-Kubrá, a district in al-Gharbīyah governorate, demonstrated in front of the Virgin Mary Church following the mysterious disappearance of 18-year-old Coptic woman Amal Zakī Nasīm.
Amal, who used to work in the Mahallah Spinning and Weaving Company, left her workplace an hour earlier than usual on Sunday August 12, 2007, and has disappeared since then, as reported by al-Miṣrī al-Yawm on August 15, 2007.
Zakī Nasīm, Amal’s father, and the church informed the police, the State Security Apparatus, the presidency of the republic, the People’s Assembly, and the Council of Ministers about the disappearance, accusing one of her friends who wears a Niqāb of abducting her.
One of Amal’s colleagues at work observed that Amal left accompanied by a woman wearing a niqāb on the day of her disappearance.
During the demonstration, Amal’s father had a heart attack and was hospitalized. Furthermore, her mother had a severe nervous breakdown.
Demonstrators blamed the government for neglecting the Copts’ issues and for “hypnotizing” them with theoretical laws and slogans. They vied to activate the citizenship principles and for more intense efforts to find Amal.
On August 16, 2007, al-Miṣrī al-Yawm published the information that the security forces could identify the woman wearing Niqāb who was the last person to be seen with Amal before her disappearance. Following a 24-hour interrogation with Samāh, the woman in the Niqāb, the police were unable to obtain further information. Samāh denied any relation with Amal and was released.
However, al-Dustūr revealed from security sources that Samāḥ gave the wrong family name when interrogated. She pretended to be Samāh ‘Abd al-Hādī, whereas her real name is Samāḥ Aḥmad Zaydān.
Amal’s mother mentioned that her daughter had always referred to Samāh as a kind woman whose husband obliged her to wear the Niqāb.
al-Dustūr reported from unknown sources that Samāh removed her Niqāb and disappeared after resigning from the company.
On the Coptic side, Father Yastus Labīb, deputy of the metropolitan of al-Mahallah al-Kubrá, blamed security forces for hiding facts about Amal’s disappearance, pointing out the potentially dangerous impact of the accumulation of anger in the Copts of al-Mahallah, especially if the Amal resurfaces after a few days as a convert to Islam or married to a Muslim man.
Amal’s father denied all rumors that his daughter’s escape was to avoid getting married to her fiancée in a month’s time, asserting that she was completely content with her fiancée.
However, a responsible security source informed al-Miṣrī al-Yawm that Amāl’s family accused the clergymen of the Virgin Mary Church of neglecting their case and carelessly dealing with it through prayers only.
On the other hand, church sources asserted that a group of young Coptic men attacked Bishop Bīshūy of al-Mahallah for not intervening in the activities of government institutions in order to solve the problem.
On August 19, 2007, al-Dustūr reported Amal’s father’s intention to go on a hunger strike if his daughter was not found. Amal’s father was among the Copts carrying out a sit-in at the church for the seventh day after Amal’s disappearance.
al-Dustūr also reported the declarations of security sources that Amal had escaped and married a Muslim man and attributed the security blackout to their intention to avoid the Copts’ wrath.
On the other hand, Amal’s mother stated that on the day of her daughter’s disappearance she received a strange phone call on her home phone. On the other end of the line she heard Qur’ānic verses.
Amal’s father described the same incident as reported in al-Dustūr on August 20, 2007, saying that he heard Qur’ānic verses and a male voice telling him: “Congratulations, your daughter has converted.”
While investigating about the number, Amal’s family knew that it was that of Muḥammad Nawfal, a Muslim man from the town of Sammanūd in al-Daqahlīyah governorate. The investigations proved that Muhammad was working for the same company with Amal.
While the Copts of al-Mahallah were resuming their sit-in, some of Amal’s father’s acquaintances, as reported by al-Dustūr on August 20, 2007, saw Amal coming out of the Azhar on Saturday afternoon.
On August 21, al-Miṣrī al-Yawm mentioned that Amal’s family filed another proclamation to the prosecution through lawyer Theresa Mansī, in which they accused Muḥammad ‘Abd Allāh of kidnapping Amal.
Meanwhile, the Copts of al-Mahallah resumed their sit-in at the town’s church. Some of them, as mentioned that al-Miṣrī al-Yawm, contacted ‘Adlī Abādīr [Editor: one of the most radical expatriate Copts], head of the Coptic expatriates in Switzerland, and called on him to disseminate the news in both international society and media.