Wednesday, July 14, 2010

064. Egypt: persecution still escalating

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 064 | Wed 14 Jul 2010

EGYPT: PERSECUTION STILL ESCALATING

In May 1980 Egypt amended its constitution to elevate Sharia (Islamic Law) as 'the principal source of legislation'. This provision is now common in Muslim constitutions, including the new constitutions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Constitutional guarantees of religious liberty and equality before the law are illusory under Sharia. It forbids apostasy (leaving Islam) and eliminates fitna (anything that could even tempt a Muslim to leave Islam). Sharia also establishes dhimmitude: the subjugation of Jews and Christians as second class citizens; systematic discrimination; religious apartheid.

In Egypt, as in virtually every Muslim state, a person's official religion is displayed on their identity (ID) card. According to Sharia, every child born to a Muslim man is automatically Muslim from birth. If a Christian man converts to Islam, his Christian children are automatically deemed Muslim. If a Muslim parent converts to Christianity they lose custody of their children. Sharia mandates that a Muslim girl may marry only a Muslim man, thereby ensuring that her children will be born Muslim. (This is the main reason why some female converts to Christianity dare to adopt falsified ID cards.)

In 2007 a Muslim-born convert to Christianity, Mohammed Hegazi (24), applied to have his ID card changed. Not only did he want to have his ID card reflect reality, he did not want his unborn child to be officially deemed Muslim from birth. When his application was rejected, Hegazi sued the Interior Ministry for his constitutional right to religious freedom (Article 46). The court ruled against Hegazi on the grounds that Sharia prohibits apostasy. Death threats resulting from the publicity drove Hegazi, his wife and new-born daughter into hiding. In August 2008 Maher el-Gowhary took up the same fight for the sake of his 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, when she would be issued her own ID card.

Islamic religious leaders issued fatwas calling for Hegazi's and el-Gowhary's blood to be shed and in September 2008 the men narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. In June 2009 the court ruled against el-Gowhary because 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. In April 2010 Dina el-Gowhary was attacked with acid, causing her jacket to ignite. Fortunately she survived unharmed. On 5 July 2010 Maher el-Gowhary was ambushed by two men on a motorbike who abused him as an apostate, shouted 'Allahu Akbar' and stabbed him in the neck. The seriously wounded el-Gowhary is too afraid of the authorities to go to hospital as Egyptian police are infamous for their corruption and brutality.

Nagla Al-Imam (36), an Egyptian attorney, Sharia expert and prominent human rights activist, publicly announced in 2009 that she had converted from Islam to Christianity. In early July 2010 Egyptian security officials detained Nagla, bashed and threatened her. On 8 July she responded by posting an Internet video of herself (battered and bruised) and her two young children singing a Christian lament requesting Christ's comforting and strengthening presence through the high waves of persecution. Shortly after this, Nagla and her children disappeared and the offices of Al-Tarek TV, from where she used to broadcast, were vandalised by Egyptian security forces.

WE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL:

* shield, protect, comfort and strengthen those Egyptian Christians who, while embracing Christian freedom, are risking much to challenge Islamic totalitarianism.

'Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; protect me from those who rise up against me; deliver me from those who work evil, and save me from bloodthirsty men.' (Psalm 59:1,2 ESV)

* redeem this suffering for the salvation of many and for his glory.

'Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.' (1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV)

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PERSECUTION STILL ESCALATING IN EGYPT

Egypt's Constitution elevates Sharia as 'the principal source of legislation', rendering constitutional guarantees of religious liberty illusory. In 2007 Mohammed Hegazi and in 2008 Maher el-Gowhary courageously pursued the Interior Ministry for their constitutional right to have their conversion from Islam to Christianity officially recorded. They did this for their children who would thus be free to be Christian. The courts, however, ruled that Sharia prohibits leaving Islam (apostasy). Their lives are seriously imperilled with fatwas issued against them. After Nagla al-Imam (36), an attorney and Sharia expert, had publicly announced her conversion to Christianity, police detained, bashed and threatened her in early July. She then posted an Internet video of herself (battered) and her two young children singing a Christian lament. The three have since 'disappeared'. Please pray.