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Convert family sentenced to 15 years in prison

Nader Shukry - Ra’fat Edward

15 Jan 2013 11:38 pm

The Christian-born convert to Islam Nadia Ali and her seven children: Mohaab, Maged, Sherif, Amira, Amir, Nancy, and Ahmed Abdel-Wahab Mustafa, have been sentenced by a court in Beni Sweif, 100km south of Cairo, to 15 years in prisons for forging ID papers that cite them as Christian

The Christian-born convert to Islam Nadia Ali and her seven children: Mohaab, Maged, Sherif, Amira, Amir, Nancy, and Ahmed Abdel-Wahab Mustafa, have been sentenced by a court in Beni Sweif, 100km south of Cairo, to 15 years in prisons for forging ID papers that cite them as Christian. Seven government employees who supposedly issued the documents were each handed a five-year prison sentence.  
Nadia had converted to Islam to marry her late husband, and their children were registered as Muslim per the law.  However, after the death of the father, Nadia had new documents issued for all of them in 2004, as Christians with new names.  
The case is typical of several conditions that govern such cases. 
First is that converts from Islam cannot publicise their conversion because o the social stigma involved and the threat to their lives. This means that it becomes next to impossible for them to lead ##normal## Christian lives. They cannot go to church, teach their children anything about Christianity (in fact, their children are obliged to study Islamic religion in school), marry a Christian, or raise a Christian family. To do so, they should have Christian ID papers; and they should relocate somewhere where nobody knows they have a past history of having been at any point in their lives Muslim. The fact that anyone has given up Islam earns him or her unbearable social hostility, if not an outright threat on their lives and the lives of anyone they care for. So, for Nadia to go back to being Christian after her husband died, she HAD to have new ID papers that cite her religion as Christian, and she had to relocate. Ditto for her children, except for one major difference: Nadia was born Christian and was reverting to her original Christianity (which, even if frowned-upon, is sanctioned by law), but her children were born Muslim to a Muslim father. This makes them liable to ridda, meaning they are deserters of Islam and have thus earned for themselves a death sentence (NOT legally, but socially).
Second: Conversion is not a legal offence under Egyptian law. So converts may not be prosecuted on grounds that they have converted. They are usually caught on forgery charges because they have forged ID papers, or on grounds of disdain of Islam. In the case of Nadia and her children, they were charged with forgery.
Third: the maximum sentence for the forgery offence is five years in prison. The sentence against Nadia and her children appears to be a vengeful one. Also, the sentence against the Civil Register employees does not make much sense, since they acted upon the documents they had in hand. Strictly speaking, it is not their responsibility, nor do they posses the expertise, to check the authenticity of the documents they receive from an applicant. So again, it appears the might have been political. 
Nothing has been said so far about Nadia or any of the others intending to take their cases to the court of appeals; that would be the normal course to follow. However, no-one can predict whether or not the appeal would help.
WATANI International
14 January 2013


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