Two Christians connected to a Canadian ministry working in Egypt, a nation known for persecuting those who are not Muslims, have been acquitted of charges they insulted Islam and released from a three-month detention, according to new reports from Voice of the Martyrs, a worldwide ministry to the Persecuted Church.
The report said family and friends, their lawyers, members of the clergy and others gathered at the home of Adel Fawzy Faltas, 61, this week to celebrate the court decision that also threw out unsubstantiated charges of “tarnishing Egypt’s reputation abroad.”
Also detained, then released, was Peter Ezzat Mounir, 25. Faltas heads the Egyptian branch of the Canadian-based Middle East Christians Association, a religious liberty group, and Mounir is an associate with the group.
“Praise God for the release…,” said VOM. “Pray for Christians in Egypt to remain faithful in their relationship with Jesus Christ despite being treated as second-class citizens.
Egypt detained the two activists months ago, and Faltas said probably the most difficult part of the ordeal was spending the first two weeks in an isolation cell about five feet long and three feet wide.
According to Christian Solidarity International, members of Egypt’s State Security Investigations took the two into custody, and confiscated computers and documents from their homes.
The prisoners were held at the Lazoghly Square headquarters of the federal agency and security statements accused them of insulting Islam, preaching Christianity and maintaining an unlawful association with a foreign organization. For a long initial period, they were held completely incommunicado.
Peter Ezzat Mounir
The group’s corporate identity statement calls for secularism, equality and full citizenship for Christians in Egypt, as well as the rest of the Middle East.
CSI had raised concerns for the men’s health and safety.
“Some of the atrocities and malicious practices of the Egyptian police came to public notice when bloggers managed to publish videos of torture and abuse of citizens at the hands of the police,” CSI said.
“I was always a free man,” Faltas told Compass Direct News. “When you respect yourself and what you are doing, then you are free.”
John Eibner, CSI-USA’s chairman, had written President Bush asking for help in the situation.
“The arrests of Messrs. Fawzy Faltas and Ezzat Mounir take place against a background of increasing state-sponsored persecution of Christians in Egypt and growing intolerance of Christians and other religious minorities throughout the Middle East. If present trends of violence, intimidation and discrimination continue, the tragic fate of oriental Jewry could soon befall Middle Eastern Christians,” he said.
As WND also has reported, an Egyptian Christian who had fled his home nation has been given temporary permission to remain in the United States because he, “most assuredly has a right not to be tortured,” a federal court as concluded.
The court pointedly concluded that “diplomatic assurances” of his religious rights “by a country known to have engaged in torture” weren’t reassuring.
Officials reported the arrests followed increased MECA activity in Egypt including the submission of a lawsuit against Egypt President Hosni Mubarak and other members of the Egyptian government on behalf of victims of the anti-Christian al-Kosheh riots in 2000, which left 21 Christians dead.
Also ruffling feathers lately have been a book documenting the persecution of Egyptian Christians and the high-profile legal case in which a convert to Christianity petitioned to have the government recognize his change in religious affiliation.
The U.S. Copts Association said the arrests likely were triggered specifically by the men’s reporting on the killing of an Egyptian Christian by two police officers.
The day before they were arrested, the Copts Association said, the two had investigated reports a Coptic worker in Cairo was thrown from his balcony by two members of the Egyptian police after he refused to pay them extortion money.
“It appeared that two policemen had stopped Nasser Sediq Gadallah on his way home from work and demanded money by force. He refused to pay and went and filed a report with the prosecutor’s office charging them with extortion and brutality. Eyewitnesses reported that both members of the police visited Naser’s home shortly after he filed his report and tried to force him to withdraw his complaints from the prosecutors’ office. When he refused, they threw him off his balcony in the presence of his family and other eyewitnesses,” the report said.
The report said a short time later police reported the death as a suicide, but Ezzat and others took pictures of the crime scene, interviewed witnesses on film and encouraged the family to report the death.
WND also recently reported on two young Egyptian boys who were ordered to take a school test that would result in their conversion to Islam.
They wrote, “I am Christian,” on the exam papers, knowing in advance that could very well spell the end of their educations. Now a U.S.-based organization is lobbying for international pressure on Egypt to quit forcing Christians into such no-win situations.
Their situation arose because of the Islamic law demand that children follow their father’s faith if it is Islam. Their father, who abandoned the family a number of years ago, had converted to Islam. The nation’s education ministry then requires children to take – and pass – a test on Islam in order for them to be advanced in school. No passing grade, no more schooling, officials said.
Related special offer: