Sunday, October 26, 2003 1:48 AM
Subject: 22 CHRISTIANS IN EGYPT "BEATEN AND TORTURED"
22 CHRISTIANS IN EGYPT
"BEATEN AND TORTURED"
Part of massive against believers
By Stefan J.
CAIRO, EGYPT (ANS) -- Some 22 Christians,
including many secret converts from Islam to Christianity, have been arrested by
Egyptian police and are "being beaten, interrogated and tortured," a major
Christian rights group said Friday, Oct. 24.
The well informed Barnabas
Fund, which supports persecuted believerscrackdown
, said the abuses began when Christians were taken from
Alexandria to police stations in the capital Cairo as part of a fresh "dramatic"
anti-Christian crackdown that began Tuesday, Oct. 21.
Among the first to
be arrested were two converts from Islam, Yusuf Samuel Makari Suliman, whose
former Muslim name was Muhammad Ahmad Imam al-Kurdi and his wife Mariam Girgis
Makar formerly Saher As-Sayid Abd al-Rani, the organization said.
following day some seven others were also arrested and taken to the office of
the Attorney General."
Thursday Oct. 23
that number rose to 22 as other "converts and Christians who have tried to
assist them were rounded up and arrested in dramatic sweeps by police," the
Barnabus Fund added in a statement send to ASSIST News Service
"Local Christians fear the arrests will continue and many other
converts from Islam, who have been living quietly as Christians may now be
arrested in the next few days," said the Barnabus Fund, which runs a major
international campaign on behalf of converts
The Egyptian authorities
have not yet reacted to the charges, however there has been among hardliners
about what they regard as Western (Christian) influences in the mainly Islamic
country, where Christians make up about 6 percent of the
FALSIFYING ID PAPERS
Officially the 22 arrested
Christians being charged "with falsifying ID papers," apparently because they
changed their Muslim names into Christian names, the Barnabus Fund
"Whilst Egypt has no law against apostasy from Islam, in
practice converts are actively punished by the police in this 90% Muslim
country. (They) often face imprisonment, beatings and torture on various
pretexts in order to try to force them to return to Islam."
who converts to Islam in Egypt can receive ID papers with a new adopted Muslim
name within 24 hours, but "it is impossible for a Muslim who converts to
Christianity to change their name to a Christian one at all," said the Barnabus
"Thus they will always be regarded as Muslims in the eyes of the
TORTURE AND INTERROGATION
The initial arrest of the
first Christians, Yusuf and Mariam, came about as a result of information
obtained by police through the torture and interrogation of a Christian who
revealed that the married couple were converts from Islam, the organization
They allegedly were involved in leading other Muslims to convert to
Christianity. "An investigation was opened by police in the Al-Muski quarter of
Cairo and the couple was eventually arrested in Alexandria, "beaten, abused,
tortured and taken by police to a station in Al Muski," in the
Cairo Christians have reportedly brought food for the couple but
the police has so far reportedly refused to allow this to be given to them.
Local Christians have managed to obtain the services of a team of Christian and
Muslim lawyers to defend the accused.
"They have managed to secure the release of Yusuf who will
be fined" and was expected leave the police station later Friday, October 24,
while a court case against him is still be outstanding. His wife Mariam will be
held in prison for a month whilst the investigation is being conducted against
She was due to be transferred to a prison later Friday, Oct.
24. The other 20 Christians who have been arrested were held at a police station
in el Galaa, Cairo, "but could be moved from there at any time," to a yet
unknown location, the Barnabus Fund said.
The latest reported crackdown
comes only months after Naglaa, a female Egyptian convert from Islam and her
Christian husband Malak were arrested on similar charges of falsifying ID
papers. They have been held in prison since 26 February 2003.
reportedly tried to force Naglaa to give up her Christian faith and return to
Islam, to leave her husband, and to raise her children as
KILLINGS IN PRISON
Human rights workers say that
many converts have faced imprisonment, beatings and torture. Some are said to
have died in prison, while others have fled Egypt, Africa's second largest
country with over 66 million people.
"Converts have sometimes been
arrested under the country's emergency legislation which allows for the holding
of suspects without charge or trial for indefinite periods, " the Barnabus Fund
The Fund has urged Muslim religious leaders to condemn the harsh
treatment of converts "and to make public statements calling for a reform of
shari'a teaching on apostasy."
That would "clearly affirm that Muslims
who choose to convert to another faith are free to follow their personal
convictions without fear of punishment or harassment."
Published Date: October 24, 2003 Provided by Assist News Service