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Hegazy case postponed, again

ICC Note

Hagazy is the first Egyptian Muslim convert to Christianity to challenge Egyptian government to recognize his right to convert to Christianity by issuing him with ID indicating his Christian identity. Recently he gave an interview to Daily News-Egyptian news paper.

January 26, 2008 Egypt (U.S Copts Association)-…

Why did you go into hiding in the past four months?

When the location of my residence became known, I had no option but to move in fear for my wife, who was in her final months of pregnancy at the time. Back then our neighbors in Old Cairo had set some of our possessions on fire during our absence. It was natural that we should completely disappear. I was also warned indirectly that security officials wanted me to either drop the case or leave the country, but I refused and said that I’ll fight for my rights.

I also felt that the press often twists and fabricates my words and treats me like a criminal accused.

When the location of my residence became known, I had no option but to move in fear for my wife, who was in her final months of pregnancy at the time. Back then our neighbors in Old Cairo had set some of our possessions on fire during our absence. It was natural that we should completely disappear. I was also warned indirectly that security officials wanted me to either drop the case or leave the country, but I refused and said that I’ll fight for my rights.

I also felt that the press often twists and fabricates my words and treats me like a criminal accused.

What have you been doing in the past few months?

I had to hide at home most of the time and only left the house if there was something very important to be taken care of. I’m not living a normal life … I can’t work or move around freely since several fatwas were issued to kill me. All I asked for was a basic, natural right, but now I am being treated like an accused man, in hiding from the Islamists, or from society or from security.

…

Tell us your reaction to what happened in the second hearing of Jan. 15 when the alliance of lawyers against you attacked your lawyers?

The mob was led by the Islamist lawyers. They don’t want anyone to side with me; they threatened to kill me and verbally abused and violated the two lawyers who volunteered to defend me. All this happened in front of the judge, who failed to abide by any law.

I don’t understand why 20 lawyers are volunteering to strip me of the right to convert. I’m a mature individual and I can make my own decisions.

There’s a double standard amongst people and the government.

…

Have you issued a birth certificate for her, and what did you write as her religious affiliation?

Yes, I have issued a birth certificate for her, and she was recorded as Muslim since my religious affiliation is still Muslim on my ID. What was written on her birth certificate is not the truth, it’s as if the government is encouraging us to lie.

…

What if you lose the court case, will you leave the country?

I am sticking to my right to choose my faith and live in my own country. I was part of the Kefaya Movement for Change, and I love my country despite everything. I don’t want to leave it; I want to stay and watch it prosper and become a protector of freedom of faith. I will stay the course until the end.

The government is now facing a dilemma. It has signed international agreements protecting religious freedom, but at the same time Article 2 of the constitution asserts that the Islamic Sharia is the principal source of legislation.

I cannot change the law which gives Islamists the right to challenge my right to convert to another religion.

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