Thursday, April 20, 2006

Keeping with the theme of Middle Eastern Christianity...

All the attention in the Middle East goes to Iraq, Iran and Israel, but we forget that it is still not OK to convert in Egypt...will the Muslims ever allow true freedom of religion?

Open conversion to Christianity still not possible in Egypt

Rome, Apr. 20, 2006 (CNA) - A report by the EFE news agency states that despite the Egyptian government’s recent decision to allow missionaries of “all monotheistic religions” to be active in the country, conversions to Christianity continue to take place clandestinely. The report noted the case of Mary Tanagho, a 20 year-old Egyptian Christian whose family has lived in the US for 24 years because of death threats against her father for distributing Christian pamphlets “intended for Muslim faithful.” “The police stormed the clinic where my father was working in Cairo and they took him to jail, where he spent six months without being accused of a single crime,” Mary said. She said the pamphlets led to the conversion to Christianity of various Muslims. Mary’s father was pressured to abandon all religious activity and after receiving death threats, he ultimately decided to leave the country. A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Egypt, Rafiq Gresh, told EFE that if a Muslim converts to Christianity and manages to keep it hidden, when he dies “he will be buried in a Muslim cemetery.” He said a person’s national identity card indicates what religion he or she professes. According to statements by Islamic authorities, Islam is tolerant of other monotheistic faiths but does not allow them to engage in missionary activity. “A Christian has the same right as a Muslim to express his religion at any time or place, but there is a difference between this and inciting a person to follow another religion,” said Abdel Moti Bayumi of the Academy of Islamic Studies. The Egyptian constitution established Islam, which is the faith of 90% of population, as the official religion. The remaining 10% include Coptic Orthodox, Coptic Catholics, Armenian Orthodox, Chaldean and Maronite Catholics and members of the Bahá'í faith.


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