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ICC NOTE: Honor killings are foreign to many in the west as the concept of murdering someone over the families standing in the community seems preposterous. Yet in the Muslim world and in certain Asian cultures it is an old tradition which continues to be performed. Enter Eid and Marwa, a Coptic man and a Muslim woman who fell in love. Marwa converted to Christianity and after many months Muslim family members found her and forced her younger sister to kill her. Marwa and other members of her family were killed for merely converting to Christianity. 

2/23/2016 Egypt (World Watch Monitor) – Not for the first time in Egypt, a romance between a Muslim divorcee and a Copt eventually ended in tragedy late last year, when the woman, who had ‘converted’ to Christianity, was killed by members of her family.
Many parts of the story seem inexplicable: how a romance between a Muslim woman and a Christian man could end in marriage in a country where Sharia makes this legally impossible; and how a mother could pay with her life for being with a Christian, while her killers remain at large. There appears to be a pattern of collective punishment, favouring the strong against the weak. It’s a sectarian twist to a notoriously familiar ‘honour-killing’ scenario plaguing many Islamic cultures.

It all began in 2013, when a romance started between Marwa Mohamed, 26, and her Coptic neighbour, Karim Eid, 27, in the town of Tamia, 87 km southwest of Cairo.

The Muslim mother of two (Sahar, eight, and Omar, six), used to frequent a nearby Christian jeweller’s shop where Eid was working.

“The frequent visits by Marwa to meet Karim at the shop gave reason for Karim’s employer to dismiss him,” explained George Fahmi, a relative of Eid and a resident of their home town of Tamia.

“During the summer of 2013, the couple made it secretly out of Tamia to Alexandria [280 km away].”

Marwa’s desperate family tried unsuccessfully to locate her. Their attempts included storming the local St. George church and the priest’s home, according to Fahmi.

Unable to bear the shame of his daughter’s elopement with a Christian, Marwa’s father, together with her mother and siblings, left Tamia for Cairo, where he earned a meagre living as a concierge.

During this time, according to Fahmi, Mohamed converted to Christianity (a ‘conversion’ not backed by official papers), and lived with Eid in Alexandria for nearly 30 months, during which time she became pregnant and they had the baby aborted.

‘Honour’ killing with religion twist

On 6 November last year, Eid took Marwa back to see his family in Tamia. Sahar, Marwa’s daughter from her previous husband is said to have spotted her mother. Eid might have thought Marwa’s now quite changed appearance, with Western clothes and without a headscarf, would mask her identity.

Word spread quickly, and as male guardians of the family’s honour – in absence of her father in Cairo – Marwa’s cousins took it upon themselves to storm Eid’s home, where they assaulted his mother and forcibly took Marwa away to her parents in the capital. Eid was not in at the time.

Another uncomfortable fact is that Eid then escaped for his life. For, following constant taunting by the community, the incensed relatives retrieved Marwa from her parents’ Cairo home back to Tamia, where she was killed.

“Marwa stayed in hiding with us for 10 days until her uncle and his two sons found her in my house,” recalled Ahmed Mohamed, Marwa’s father. “They took us all back to Tamia, where they abused us. Early on Wednesday, 18 November, they killed her in front of me, and her mother and sister.”

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