Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Christian convert challenges ID card impasse in Egypt

Mohammed Ahmed Hegazy, who converted to Christianity from Islam at age 16, has filed a lawsuit against the Egyptian government for denying him the ability to have this conversion reflected on his official identification documents, Compass Direct News reported Monday.

Currently, Egyptian law does not forbid conversion to Christianity, but it also has no legal remedy to make such a change. Because of the tense political climate in Egypt, Muslims who convert to Christianity usually conceal their identity to avoid persecution from their families and the government’s security police, the SSI.

Hegazy, now 24, is the first Muslim by birth to openly challenge the government restriction of conversion to religions other than Islam. Although his lawyer, Mamdouh Nakhla of the Kalema Center for Human Rights, has received death threats from the SSI for taking the case, Hegazy believes the benefits of legal recognition of his religion are worth the risk.

“I think it is my natural right, to embrace the religion I believe and not to have to have a double personality for me as well as for my wife and my expected baby,” said Hegazy.

This legal change would also allow his child to take Christian religion classes in school, marry in a church, and attend religious services without harassment.
“This is the first such case in the history of Egyptian justice,” Nakhla told Agence France-Presse on August 2.
Although this case is said to be unprecedented, it is but a small reflection of the struggles of a much larger community of Egyptian Christians, known as Copts.
Addressing a group of converts from Islam to Christianity recently, Hegazy said: “Get out of your ghetto and establish organizations to speak for yourselves and defend your rights. The answer is not to escape or to leave the country, but to fight and struggle for our rights here in our own country.”
For the full article, click here.


Post a Comment

<< Home