Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on August 26, 2021, a 17-year-old Christian woman was detained by Egyptian police as she was leaving a Cairo church. Upon the last communication with her, she was able to confirm her arrest. However, her current status and health condition remain unknown.
The young woman is a Christian convert from Islam, something which she had successfully kept secret from her family for a number of years, with only an atheist relative knowing. He advised her to leave Egypt for her own safety. She successfully applied to a university in Texas and was awarded the Presidential Scholarship, worth $22,000.00 per year, along with other smaller scholarships. She was working through the American Embassy in Cairo to plan her travel.
The reason for her arrest is unclear, but it occurred as she was leaving the church to visit the American Embassy. It is possible that her family discovered her plan to leave the country, and her conversion to Christianity, and called the police. Muslim converts are frequently threatened by their family members and detained by the Egyptian authorities, making their situation particularly perilous.
A partner shared with ICC, “They had taken everything from her, including any money she had. We had been in communication with her up until a few minutes before this. We waited and waited to hear from her, but there was no word. We did not know what to think or how to find her. Several hours later, we received messages from her on a phone borrowed from a fellow prisoner. We knew it was her because she said things only she would know. That is how we found out about her arrest.”
“That is the last we know of her. We are terribly concerned for her safety now and in the future. Any help is greatly appreciated,” continued the partner.
An individual connected with the case shared, “Her phone is still off. So we have no idea where she is or if she is safe. Since I tried to FaceTime her to see that she was actually the one we were communicating with, and that she was physically okay, her phone has been off. Egypt is a police and intelligence state that has special interests like the mafia and is characterized by false reports that are far from true, fabricating facts and fabricating accusations.”
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom said in the 2021 Report, “Egypt’s constitution identifies Islam as the state religion and the principles of Shari’a as the primary source of legislation. While Article 64 states that ‘freedom of belief is absolute,’ only Muslims, Christians, and Jews can practice their religion publicly and build places of worship.” Conversion from Islam to another religion is not tolerated.
Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “We are extremely worried for the welfare of this young woman, whose whole future stands ahead of her. An Egyptian prison is already a traumatic experience, particularly so for women and converts to Christianity. We urge the authorities to promptly release her so that she can step into that future which every human deserves a chance to pursue. A future full of opportunities to safely practice their faith in safety.”