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Muslim Convert to Christianity Needs Your Support

February 20, 2007

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The Case

El-Akkad was arrested on April 6, 2005, by the Egyptian State Security Investigations and remains incarcerated. Although no official charges have been filed, El-Akkad has declared from his prison cell that he is under arrest for “insulting Islam” by becoming a Christian.

El-Akkad became a sheikh (Muslim religious leader) during the many years he was a member of Tablighi and Da’wah, a fundamentalist Islamic group. Although the group is active in teaching and spreading Islam to non-Muslims, it is strictly opposed to violence.

In a series of handwritten notes smuggled out of prison in recent months, El-Akkad declared that he had “chosen the Christian faith” after years of research on Islam. Within two months, word of El-Akkad’s conversion to Christianity had reached the State Security Intelligence, and secret police picked him up without warning from his private trade office.

El-Akkad remains incarcerated in the maximum security Wadi el-Natroun Prison, located in the desert and notorious for its harsh conditions. The prison facility houses its prisoners in small cells. According to his lawyer, El-Akkad “is locked in a place where he may die because his age, body and mind cannot tolerate this cruelty and stubbornness of the state security authorities.” His client is suffering from high blood pressure as well as skin diseases caused by extreme temperatures, unsanitary cell conditions and bites from insects and small reptiles.

El-Akkad was released on paper in August 2005 and in July 2006. He was rearrested at the same time, however.

The Egyptian law has been violated several times during El-Akkad’s time in prison. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Egyptian Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The reported conversion of El-Akkad to Christianity, therefore, can never be legal grounds for his arrest.