Egypt Sentences Family To 15 Years For Converting To Christianity

Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

The Arab Spring’s liberals have lost another important battle for religious freedom. An Egyptian widow and her seven children have been sentenced to 15 years in prison for apostasy, the crime of leaving Islam. Fox News has the story:

A criminal court  in the central Egyptian city of Beni Suef  meted out the shocking sentence last week, according to the Arabic-language Egyptian paper Al-Masry Al-Youm. Nadia Mohamed Ali, who was raised a Christian, converted to Islam when she married Mohamed Abdel-Wahhab Mustafa, a Muslim, 23 years ago. He later died, and his widow planned to convert her family back to Christianity in order to obtain an inheritance from her family. She sought the help of others in the registration office to process new identity cards between 2004 and 2006. When the conversion came to light under the new regime, Nadia, her children and even the clerks who processed the identity cards were all sentenced to prison.

How can Egypt’s once secular courts allow this to happen? Religious leaders judges are now in charge of interpreting the laws.

Samuel Tadros, a research fellow at Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, said conversions like Nadia’s have been common in the past, but said Egypt’s new Sharia-based constitution “is a real disaster in terms of religion freedom…”

…Tadros said the constitution limits the practice of Christianity because “religious freedom has to be understood within the boundaries of Sharia.” He added that the constitution prescribes that the highest Sunni authority should be referred to as an interpreter of the religion clause contained in the constitution.

Freedom of Religion is one of the cornerstones of liberal (Jeffersonian) democracy. If Egypt expects to be taken seriously on the world stage (not to mention continuing to receive foreign aid from the US) this cannot stand.

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