Shaymaa Muhammad al-Sayed was born a Muslim, but got married to a Coptic man and became a Coptic Christian in 2003. This angered her family greatly. In 2003, she fled her family, fearing the repercussions of her conversion and marriage. Her father submitted three missing person reports after she fled, even though she was not a minor. Reportedly, on July 16, 2007, they saw her in Alexandria, and voiced their desire to harm her. She was arrested July 21, 2007. According to the police, she was arrested as protective custody to protect the women from her family. However, while she was arrested she was mistreated. She claims that the police tortured her through beatings, electric shocks, and even took a photograph of her while she was naked.
Although she had been arrested under the guise of protective custody by being protected from her family, five days later she was released to her family against her will. While in prison she tried to press charged against her family but was repeatedly denied. However, the police returned the woman to her family against her will, because of the missing person reports. She was not a minor, and therefore should not have been returned to her family. Furthermore, she they had openly threatened her she should have been protected from them, especially without ensuring the woman’s safety.
The police’s action shows the Egyptian government’s willingness to cater to the Muslim Brotherhood at the expense of the Coptic Christians. The woman chose to flee her family. Yet, she was arrested and tortured by the police, then returned to her family. Although she had broken the law by converting from Islam, the police should not have released her to a family that openly expressed its desire to kill her. According to the reports, when the woman was taken away by her family she was immediately dragged and beaten in the graveyard behind the station. Yet, the police did not interfere. Furthermore, she was denied her right to press charges against her family for abuse and other related charges.
This incident by the State Security Investigation force in Egypt compounds the fears of the Coptic Christian community in Egypt. Although Mubarak takes a strong stance against the Muslim Brotherhood and extremist Islam, his stance is undercut with rules making it illegal to convert from Islam to another religion or for a Islamic woman to marry a Coptic man. These laws give radical Islamics reign to attack those who violate the law. Also, the laws create more tension to erupt when a person converts to Islam or Coptic Christianity. The government must eliminate such laws and take a stance to protect its citizens irregardless of the person’s religious background.
BosNewLife. Egypt Police Hands Over Christian Convert To “Fanatical Muslim” Family. 23 July 2007.
Compass Direct News. EGYPT: POLICE RELEASE CHRISTIAN TO HER VIOLENT FAMILY. 23 July 2007.
Compass Direct News. EGYPT: SECURITY POLICE TORTURE CHRISTIAN CONVERT WOMAN. 18 July 2007.