Yesterday 15 February, Minya Criminal Court’s advisory chamber accepted the contest filed by Suad Thabet against Minya prosecution’s decision to dismiss Ms Thabet’s legal complaint against Nazeer Ishaq and two others, owing to insufficient evidence. The 70-year-old Suad Thabet from the village of al-Karm in Minya, 250km south of Cairo had been stripped naked and beaten by a Salafi mob in May 2016, in the wake of a rumour that her son was having an affair with a Muslim woman. The Muslim woman’s husband, Nazeer Ishaq, led the attack against Ms Thabet and her husband after their son fled the village. The Muslim villagers also attacked the Copts in the village, looting and burning seven Coptic-owned houses. Twenty-five men were caught and prosecuted on that score.
The attack against Ms Thabet shocked and outraged Egyptians, and brought on an apology from President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi who also ordered that all the houses damaged–among them was Ms Thabet’s house–should be repaired by and at the expense of the Armed Forces, which was promptly done.
Ms Thabet had taken legal proceedings against Ishaq and two accomplices but, after almost eight months of investigations and deliberations, the prosecution dropped the case because of inconsistencies in Ms Thabet’s testimony, and because several witnesses had gone back on their original testimonies. Ms Thabet’s family and her lawyers claimed that the witnesses did that under threats from the village Muslims in order for the Copts to ‘reconcile’ with their Muslim attackers and relinquish the legal proceedings against Ishaq and his accomplices and also against the 25 defendants charged with violence and arson.
Sameh Ashour, Head of the Bar Association and head of Ms Thabet’s defence team hailed the recent court decision which did not merely accept Ms Thabet’s demand that the case should be reinvestigated by the prosecution, but rather referred it directly to court.
Writer and journalist Soliman Shafiq, who is resident in Minya, told Watani that the case perfectly mirrored the bitter struggle between the tribal fundamentalist forces in rural Egypt and the liberal civic forces. Mr Shafiq applauded the recent decision to refer Ms Thabet’s case to court as a victory for the civic forces which, he said, are led by President Sisi who had hastened to apologise to Ms Thabet and promised that justice would be served.
16 February 2017