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22 christians in Egypt "beaten & tortured"

From: nagy awad
 Sent: Sunday, October 26, 2003 1:48 AM




Part of massive against believers

By Stefan J. Bos

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.

"The 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 (ANS).

"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 population.


Officially the 22 arrested Christians being charged "with falsifying ID papers," apparently because they changed their Muslim names into Christian names, the Barnabus Fund reported.

"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."

A Christian 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 Fund.

"Thus they will always be regarded as Muslims in the eyes of the law."


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 said.

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 capital.

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 the couple.

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.

Police have 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 Muslims


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 said.

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

Date de création : 26/10/2003 00:00
Dernière modification : 29/09/2005 19:45
Catégorie : Information

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