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Arrest Warrant Sought for Egyptian Muslim Cleric for ‘Hate Speech’

ICC Note

A Coptic human rights group is seeking to initiate an international arrest warrant against an Egyptian Muslim radical who said “God has commanded us to kill those who leave Islam.”

By Mary Abdelmassih

08/10/2010 Egypt (AINA)-A Christian Coptic human rights group is seeking to initiate an international arrest warrant in the United Kingdom against the leading Muslim fundamentalist cleric Sheikh Yousef al-Badri for inciting Muslims to kill apostates from Islam in Egypt . Al-Badri, who is a member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and is associated with the primary Islamic institute of al Azhar University, is reported to have stated “God has commanded us to kill those who leave Islam.”

Although Christianity in Egypt is not illegal, it is under a common interpretation of Islamic law that conversion to another religion from Islam is punishable by death. Muslims, mainly fundamentalists, see no difference between apostasy and subversion; they fear that allowing conversion will ultimately undermine Islam.

“We expected the Egyptian Prosecutor General to take legal action against al-Badri, but unfortunately in Egypt impunity for Muslims prevails at all levels when it comes to the rights of Christians,” said Dr. Ibrahim Habib, President of United Copts of Great Britain who will initiate the arrest warrant. “Incitement to kill is a crime under legal and ethical norms.”

Sheikh Yousef al-Badri has called on several occasions for the “spilling of the blood” of Muslims who convert to Christianity, causing them to live in hiding under the constant threat of vigilantism and death from fundamentalists. “Even if we are killed, the government will not convict our killers,” said Mohamad Hegazy, a renown apostate from Islam, whose face is familiar all over Egypt .

In 2007, Mohamad Hegazy, a Muslim who converted to Christianity in 1998, was the first convert to sue the Egyptian government for rejecting his application to change his official documents to reflect his new Christian faith (AINA 2-27-2010).

This case sparked national uproar in Egypt , with al-Badri making a number of controversial statements, besides filing charges of inciting sectarian strife against Hegazy’s first lawyer, Mamdouh Nakhla, who had to withdraw from the case after receiving several death threats.

In February 2008 Hegazy lost his case, with the court ruling that according to Sharia Law, a Muslim who converted to Christianity cannot legally change his religious status. The reasoning given behind this ruling was that ‘Islam is the final and most complete religion’ and since “monotheistic religions were sent by God in chronological order,” one cannot therefore convert to “an older religion.”

Hegazy believes that even after the media stopped reporting on his case, he still remains a target — as all converts do — of Islamic militants. According to Compass Direct News, He was forced into hiding after extremists, unaware of his escape, surrounded his former house for several days and set fire to his neighbor’s residence, killing the female occupant.

Another victim of “hate speech” is Muslim-born Maher el-Gowhary who publicly converted to Christianity in 2008, after secretly being a Christian for over 35 years (AINA 9-26-2009). In August 2008, he filed the second lawsuit of a Muslim-born against the Egyptian Government to seek official recognition of his conversion. He lost the case on June 13, 2009. According to the Court ruling, the religious conversion of a Muslim is against Islamic law and poses a threat to the “Public Order” in Egypt .

“We live in constant fear ever since radical sheikhs have called for my blood to be shed because I left Islam. We are mostly afraid of the uneducated people on the street,” Maher said in an interview aired end July 2010 on ZDF German TV (video).

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