ICC Note: Human right’s activists have expressing a continuing concern over Mohamed Hegazy, an Egyptian Christian convert that was believed to have forcibly embraced Islam after being tortured by Egyptian authorities in prison. Hegazy announced his return to Islam on youtube ending a nine year battle in which he was trying to change his official religion on his ID card. Many are concerned with the video and the circumstances that may have lead to it.
08/23/2016 Egypt (BosNewsLife): Rights activists have expressed concern about the plight of Mohamed Hegazy amid fears the Christian convert may have been forced to publicly embrace Islam after he was allegedly jailed and tortured by Egyptian authorities.
The 34-year-old Hegazy, a journalist, announced his return to Islam in a message on YouTube, the video-sharing website. In what critics viewed as a well-rehearsed statement he was seen saying: “I say this out of my complete free will. I am not being held by any agency, nor am I under any pressure of any kind.”
The statement, monitored by BosNewsLife, ended a nine-year-battle with Egyptian courts to be officially recognized as a Christian. Friends said he had endured “relentless persecution” since trying to change the religious status on his identity document card from Muslim to “Christian.”
He also wanted to be known as Bishoy Armeya Boulos, his new Christian name after he converted to Christianity at age 17 in 1999. The YouTube video was posted however as Mohamed Hegazy.
Christians linked the latest developments to a perceived government-backed crackdown on Christian converts and other minorities. “His public request to change his religious status generated death threats” and forced his family into hiding, noted Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC) in a recent assessment.
YEARS IN HIDING
After spending several years in hiding his wife and two children were reportedly able to leave Egypt for asylum in Germany. Hegazy chose to remain in Egypt, fearing that if he left, he would never be allowed back in his home country, Christians said.