Egypt: Criminal court sentences whole Christian family to hard labour
The criminal court in Beni Sweif governorate, upper Egypt, on Sunday 13th January 2013, sentenced a whole Christian family of eight people to 15 years of hard labor for changing their religion and their address on their national number identity card. The changes had been made in order to reconvert to Christianity after their mother’s conversion into Islam many years ago and her marriage with a Muslim, the father of her children.
The court also sentenced 7 employees in the local council unit, and employees in the ministry of social solidarity and the ministry of health directorate in Beni Sweif, Biba, to 5 years, for assisting the family to forge their official documents.
The court sentenced Nadia Mohammed Ali, and her children, Mohab, Maged, Shrief, Amira, Amir, Nancy and Aahmed Mohammed Abdulwahab Mustafa, to 15 years of hard labor, and also sentenced Nabil Adly Hanna, Ayyad naguib Ayyad, Hany Bibawi Reyyad famous, Amgad Awadd bibawi Mikhail, Shehatta Wahba Ghobrial to 15 years imprisonment, and Mohammed Ewiss Abdelgawad, Dr. Mohammed Abdelfattah el-Berawi to 5 years imprisonment.
The district attorney’s office confirmed that the mother was a Christian who converted into Islam 23 years ago when she married Mohammed Abdulwahab Mustafa, the father of her children, who was working as a car mechanic in the governorate of Sharqiah. The father subsequently died in 1991 after she gave birth to their seven children.
She planned to reconvert to Christianity and to change her religion and her children’s religion so when her son wanted to get another ID for his lost national number identity card with his religion as Christian then he was arrested by the civil registration service bureau intelligence for forging official documents, a crime which is penalised under Egyptian law with between three to fifteen years of imprisonment.
The sentence was received with much criticism by advocacy NGOs as contravening the right to freedom of religion and faith.
Photo: Official Egyptian national identification card issued to Imad Rauf Hindi, a member of the Baha'i faith, in August 2009, showing a "dash" on the back in the field reserved for religious affiliation.
Credit: Baha'i World News Service