October 26, 2003

But They're Peacful!

This came down on an Anglican email list I'm on:

Egypt arrests 22 converts from Islam to Christianity and searches for 80 more.

Washington D.C (10/23/03) -U.S. Copts Association received several phone
calls from families and friends of over 20 Egyptian secret converts from
Islam to Christianity who have been detained by the Egyptian police since
October 20th.

The assault started with the arrest of a husband and wife who secretly
converted from Islam to Christianity. Yousef Samuel Makari Suliman, whose
former Muslim name was Muhammad Ahmad Imam al-Kurdi and his wife Mariam Girgis Makar formerly Saher El-Sayid Abd al-Kani and their two daughters, Sarah and Marina (formerly Sarah and Shaymaa) all had secretly converted to Christianity and had been living as Christians in hiding. The couple was arrested by Colonel Taha Afify from the Criminal Investigative Research unit in the civilian affairs department of Alexandria police. Lawyers who were able to visit the couple report that Mariam Girgis has been the
subject of sexual assault and attempted rape by police officers. In addition, she and her husband were beaten and physically abused. An investigation was opened by police in the Al-Muski police station of Cairo (case no 3793 for the year 2003) after the couple was transferred from Alexandria.

Following the arrest of Yousef and Mariam, the police arrested individuals
who helped them secure new ID cards with new Christian names. Under severe
torture; the police was able to extract the names of some 100 other
converts who secured new ID cards with Christian names. Immediately,
thereafter, 20 more converts were arrested in Alexandria alone.

Officially the 22 arrested converts being charged "with falsifying ID
papers," because they obtained new ID cards with their Christian
names. Initial reports indicated that lawyers were able to negotiate the
release of Yousef from police custody; however, we are told this
information is inaccurate. Both Yousef and Mariam are still in prison while
their children are with friends.

U.S. Copts Association is concerned that the Egyptian police maybe
targeting at least 100 converts from Islam to be arrested in the upcoming
days. "It is ironic that while the Egyptian constitution guarantees the
individuals' freedom to change his or her religion, the Egyptian government
repeatedly violates the constitution by harassing, torturing, raping, and
holding converts indefinitely to pressure them to leave their new faith. In
addition the government does not legally recognize conversion from Islam to
Christianity and, as a result, converts lose all their rights, inheritance
and all positions" said Michael Meunier, president of U.S. Copts Association.

The U.S. Copts Association will be leading a congressional campaign in the
U.S. Congress to ensure that this repeated violation of individuals' rights
and freedom by the Egyptian government is exposed.

The U.S. Copts Association, founded in 1996 and based in Washington D.C.,
advocates for democracy, religious freedom, and human rights in Egypt. The
Association represents over 700,000 Egyptian Christians in the United States.

Posted by Ithildin at October 26, 2003 12:08 PM | PROCURE FINE OLD WORLD ABSINTHE