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Friday, January 18, 2013

Religious freedom dead and buried in Egypt

President Morsi

It's clear that the new Sharia-based constitution in Egypt doesn't tolerate religious freedom anymore, it's Islam or else.

When Nadia Mohamed Ali's husband died, she wanted to convert her family back to Christianity and because of this, she and her seven children have been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

She was raised as a Christian but converted to Islam when she married 23 years ago, and in order to receive an inheritance from her family, she needed to change back.

Coptic Christians

She went to the registration office to process new identity cards and when her conversion came to light under the new regime of President Morsi, Nadia, her children and the clerks involved in processing the identity cards, were all sent to prison.  The shocking sentence occurred in a criminal court in the Egyptian city of Beni Suef, 75 miles south of Cairo.

And it's all down to the new President.  The secular reign of his predecessor Hosni Mubarak was well and truly over when he was sentenced to life in prison last summer for not stopping the deaths of 800 civilians.

It's just been announced that Mubarak will receive a re-trail and although the real reason is unclear, some believe it's a ploy to cut his severe sentence. 

Hosni Mubarak

The new Egyptian constitution says "religious freedom has to be understood within the boundaries of Sharia" and the highest Sunni authority should be referred to as an interpreter.  So poor Nadia and her children didn't stand a chance.

What a tragic end to what was initially optimistic excitement that the Arab Spring would move the Egyptian people further into the twenty first century. Instead, Christians would be wise to pack up and move somewhere else.