Egyptian security forces raided the home of a prominent minority rights activist early on Thursday (19 May), and are now refusing to disclose his place of detention, reports Amnesty International.

Mina Thabet, Director of the Minority and Religious Groups Department of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, and family members were reportedly ill-treated during the early morning raid by Egypt’s National Security Agency on his Cairo home.

“Thabet has tirelessly worked to defend the rights of minority groups, including Coptic Christians whom the government has suppressed for decades,” said an Amnesty International official.

The Christian advocate’s arrest comes against the backdrop of numerous other arrests, involving activists, protesters, and people on the streets. The arrests have intensified after vocal protests in April against what is seen as Egypt’s surrender of two islands of its Sinai Peninsula to Saudi Arabia – in what Cairo said was part of a border delineation agreement.

Some 51 people were given two-year prison sentences for protesting illegally.

On 1 May, two journalists were also arrested while inside their journalists’ union building. The union said “storming” its premises was a grave violation of its long-cherished rights.

Thabet faces several charges, including charges of “terrorism” and incitement to violence, local reports said.