A 10-year-old Christian boy who served as a deacon (or altar boy) at the Coptic church of St. Abdul Masih (Servant of Christ) in Minya, Egypt, was kidnapped earlier this week. The boy, Sameh George, was abducted by “unknown persons” while on his way to church to participate in Holy Pascha prayers leading up to Orthodox Easter. His parents and family report that it was his custom to go to church and worship in the evening, but when he didn’t return, and they began to panic, they received an anonymous phone call from the kidnappers, informing them that they had the Christian child in their possession, and will execute him unless they receive 250,000 Egyptian pounds in ransom money.

Such incidents are on the increase. Less than a month earlier, another Coptic Christian boy, 12-year-old Abanoub Ashraf, was also kidnapped right in front of his church, St. Paul in Shubra al-Khayma district. His abductors, four men, put a knife to his throat, dragged him to their car, opened fire on the church, and then sped away. Later they called the boy’s family demanding an exorbitant amount of money to ransom the boy’s life.

As many Coptic activists are pointing out, while the immediate motive behind these kidnappings is money, another obvious purpose is to frighten Christian families from sending their children to church. Otherwise, why were both boys kidnapped from right in front of their respective churches? Considering that some Egyptian Islamic clerics consider attending church as worse than attending bars and brothels, the kidnappers likely deem this the “altruistic” side of their greed and hate.