The U.S. Helsinki Commission gathered on July 22 to discuss the increase in violence against Coptic Orthodox Christians in Egypt, specifically young women.
Reports of kidnapping and forced marriage and conversion began cropping up in 2007, but remained "unsubstantiated," said Michele Clark, an adjunct professor of international affairs at George Washington University.
"I am here to confirm these allegations," Clark said. "These are not isolated incidences."
Clark and other witnesses testified July 22 before the independent U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. The commission is also known as the Helsinki Commission because it is tasked with monitoring compliance with the Helsinki Accords, a 1976 agreement between 56 countries that involves cooperation on issues related to human rights, democracy, economics and security.
Jean Maher, president of the France-based Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organization, said that nearly 800 Coptic Christian women have been kidnapped, raped and forced to convert to Islam since 2009.
That number has only increased since the revolution in February, Maher said.
He said that before the revolution, Muslim kidnappers would have to "seduce" their victims. Now, they "just put them in a taxi and go away with them."