Christian convert from Islam threatened with death by Islamic judge
A woman arrested at the Cairo airport because her identity card described her as a Christian has been threatened for her faith by the judge in her case, according to a new report.
As WND reported, authorities in Egypt deprived the woman's two children, ages 2 and 4, of food to try to coerce her to abandon Christianity and return to Islam.
According to the Assyrian International News Agency, a woman identified as Martha Samuel Makkar was arrested Dec. 13 as she, her husband, Fadl Thabet, and two sons were trying to leave Cairo for Russia.
Makkar, formerly known as Zainab Said Abdel-Aziz, was accused of carrying forged government documents, because she identified herself as a Christian. Islamic law forbids Muslims from abandoning the faith.
Now, according to Compass Direct News, she has been granted bail, and released to rejoin her husband and sons at home pending her forgery trial.
However, the release was not without complications.
Makkar's lawyer, Nadia Tawfiq, reported that Judge Abdelaa Hashem questioned Makkar closely about her Christian faith during a courtroom hearing.
The decision to grant her bail came Saturday in the hearing before Hashem after Makkar told the judge about her new Christian faith and her abandonment of Islam.
Tawfiq told Compass Direct "the judge then said, 'I want to talk with Martha alone,' so we all left the room, and he said to her, 'Nobody changes from Muslim to Christian – you are a Muslim.'
"And she said, 'No, I am a Christian.' He told her, 'If I had a knife now, I would kill you,'" the lawyer said.
Makkar, 24, has said she's been enduring death threats from police and members of her extended family for the five years since she converted.
There is no established legal precedent in Egypt for allowing people to leave Islam. And national law doesn't provide a channel through which to change the religious designation on an identity card.
The Compass report said George Abyad, 67, and Masood Guirges, 55, employees of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate in Alexandria, also were arrested on suspicion they aided Makkar with her papers.
Egypt formally recognizes Islamic Shariah law as the source of justice, and Christians have faced persecution there for generations.
The American Center for Law and Justice has participated in a fight to keep a man who fled Egypt from being deported from the U.S. A recent decision from the 3rd U.S. District Court of Appeals gave Sameh Khouzam the right to challenge Egypt's "diplomatic assurances" that he would not be tortured on his return to the Middle East nation.
Egypt has been demanding his extradition in a homicide case he alleges is trumped-up. The case has been highlighted by spokesman Sam Grace of Coptic News. He praised U.S. District Judge Thomas Vanaskie's earlier ruling that Khouzam "most assuredly has a right not to be tortured."
Grace earlier told WND Christians in Egypt are hostages.
"We live in a time that is really as bad if not worse than the time of the martyrs," he said.
Multitudes of Christians have been attacked, and many killed, yet not one Muslim ever has been convicted in the attacks, he said.
"The why is very simple, because Shariah law says the blood of the Muslim should not be shed for the blood of an unbeliever," he said.
Grace said since Egypt's constitution concludes laws derive from the Quran, persecution of Christians is not only allowed but endorsed by the government.
"In the last 10 years, more than 5,000 Christians have been massacred in Egypt," he told WND. "Hundreds of businesses and homes first have been looted, then burned and destroyed. Churches have been burned and destroyed."
Grace told WND that attacks, lootings and burnings are common in Egypt on Fridays, after the local imam preaches violence against Christians at his mosque.
"The life of a Christian in Egypt is now worth zero. Every Muslim now knows killing a Christian [is not prosecuted]," he said.
A report from the Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights concluded Coptic Christians in Egypt have been harassed, tortured and killed by Muslims for 1,400 years.
"They have been subjected to all kinds of hate crimes including, the abduction of young Coptic girls, the killing of Coptic women and children and the destruction of their places of worship," the report said.