Wednesday, July 14, 2010

EGYPT: what happens when Islamic totalitarianism meets Christian freedom?

In 1980, Egypt amended its constitution to elevate Sharia (Islamic law) as "the principal source of legislation". This provision -- which is now common in Muslim constitutions, including the new constitutions of Afghanistan and Iraq -- renders constitutional guarantees of religious liberty and equality before the law illusory. For Sharia's principal aim concerning religious liberty, is to eradicate apostasy (rejection of Islam) through the elimination of fitna (anything that could tempt a Muslim to reject Islam) and the establishment of dhimmitude (the humiliation and subjugation of Jews and Christians as second class citizens; crippling systematic discrimination; violent religious apartheid). There is no religious liberty in Islam, for Islam survives as religious totalitarianism that refuses rejection.

In Egypt, as in virtually all Muslim states, a person's official religion is displayed on their identity card. According to Sharia, every child born to a Muslim father is deemed Muslim from birth. According to Sharia, a Muslim woman is only permitted to marry a Muslim man. (NOTE: This is the main reason why Christian men convert to Islam, and why female converts to Christianity will risk life and liberty to secure a falsified/illegal ID, for without a Christian ID they cannot marry a Christian.)

If a Christian father converts to Islam (as some do for any number of pragmatic reasons, such as a desire for a Muslim wife or a better job), his Christian children are automatically deemed Muslim. They have no say in this and may not apostasise: i.e. return to Christianity. If a Muslim parent converts to Christianity they automatically lose custody of their children.

Egypt's Great Apostasy Debate

In 2007, a Muslim convert to Christianity, Mohammed Hegazy (24), applied to have his identity card changed. Not only was it his desire that his ID card reflect reality, he did not want his unborn child to be automatically deemed Muslim from birth. When his application was declined, Hegazy sued the Interior Ministry for his constitutional right to religious freedom (Article 46 ).

The court ruled against Hegazy on the grounds that Sharia prohibits apostasy. Death threats rang out and Hegazy, his wife and new born daughter were forced to retreat "underground", driven into hiding, to a life on the run.

In August 2008, Maher el-Gowhary stepped up in defence of Christian freedom for the sake of his own daughter, Dina (14). El-Gowhary (55), who had quietly converted to Christianity 35 years earlier, wanted his true religious identity acknowledged and his ID card corrected before his daughter turned 16. For when Dina turned 16 the state would issue her with a Muslim ID card that would condemn her to a double life and rob her of her freedom.

Religious leaders issues fatwas calling for the blood of Hegazy and el-Gowhary to be shed. In September 2008 the two men were shot at and only narrowly escaped an assassination attempt.

In June 2009, the court ruled against el-Gowhary on the grounds that Sharia prohibits apostasy and conversions would pose a threat to the "public order". When el-Gowhary and his daughter subsequently tried to leave Egypt, their passports were confiscated.

As Mary Abdelmassih reports, the el-Gowhary's plight and the Islamic totalitarianism of Egypt became more widely known, nationally and internationally, after Dina wrote to President Obama, pleading for help. (Dina was clearly unaware that Obama was powerless to help her since the global financial crash of August 2008 had largely robbed the US International Freedom from Religious Persecution Act 1998 of its economic leverage.) Subsequently, in April 2010, Dina was attacked with acid which caused the jacket she was wearing to ignite. Fortunately she was with her father who rescued her so that she was able to survive unharmed.

In early July, Maher el-Gowhary told ZDF German TV: "We live in constant fear ever since radical shaikhs have called for my blood to be shed because I left Islam. We are mostly afraid of the uneducated people on the street, our future is ruined. We are discriminated against; I do not believe that we will receive justice."

On 5 July 2010, as Maher el-Gowhary was walking with his lawyer, he was ambushed by militants who abused him as an apostate, shouted 'Allahu Akbar', and stabbed him several times in the neck. Despite being seriously wounded, Maher el-Gowhary is too afraid of the authorities to go to hospital.

See: Muslim Egyptian Girl Who Converted to Christianity Subjected to Acid Attack
by Mary Abdelmassih, AINA, 17 April 2010-07-14
Muslims Attempt to Behead Apostate in Egypt
Written by Mary Abdelmassih, 08 July 2010

It is unsurprising that el-Gowhary, a peaceful and honest man, is afraid of the authorities, for Egyptian police are infamous for their corruption and brutality. They routinely torture with impunity (even promotion!).


Late last year, Nagla Al-Imam (36) -- an Egyptian attorney, Sharia expert and prominent human rights activist -- publically announced that she had converted from Islam to Christianity. Nagla was subsequently abandoned by her husband, her family and her friends. She lost her source of income as she lost her attorney's license and Egypt's State Security Administration confined her to house arrest.

In early July 2010, Egyptian security officials took Nagla Al-Imam into custody, bashed and threatened her. She responded on 8 July by posting a video to the internet of herself (bruised and battered) and her two young children singing a Christian lament wherein Christ's comforting and strengthening presence is requested through the high waves of persecution.

According to reports, Nagla Al-Imam and her children subsequently "disappeared", and Al-Tarek, which is the TV station Nagla al-Imam broadcasts from, was vandalised by Egyptian security forces.

This is what happens when Islamic totalitarianism meets Christian freedom.

Islam -- a religion of peace, love and human rights? I don't think so.