Friday, April 10, 2009

Coptic Priest is Imprisoned for five years for Marrying a Muslim Girl to a Christian Man

Coptic Priest is Imprisoned for five years for Marrying a Muslim Girl to a Christian ManThis verdict against a priest is the first in the history of the Church and the first in the history of justice in Egypt, The verdict holds him guilty of marrying a Muslim girl to a Christian man. Criminal law specialists see it as a flagrant miscarriage of justice based on wrong conclusions reached by depending only on investigations carried out by a police officer. Human Rights activists see this verdict as an attack against Freedom of Religion which is guaranteed by Article 46 of the Egyptian Constitution and against the Human Rights declarations and treaties to which Egypt is a signatory. Freedom of Religion in Egypt is still a one-sided freedom,” Islam”, as no one dares to announce his conversion to Christianity, while the contrary is allowed and cheered. The attorney representing the priest, Dr. Naguib Gibraeel, President of the "Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organization", has presented his appeal against this unjust verdict. Meanwhile, Father Metta’os is serving his sentence in a high security prison, while the newly weds have left the country for fear of death.On 12th October 2008, Giza criminal court, Cairo sentenced Fr. Metta’os Wahba, a Coptic priest to 5 years imprisonment with 'forced labour' for “forging official document”.Fr. Metta’os Wahba had earlier, conducted the marriage of a Christian man to a woman who converted from Islam. The priest believed, since he had no way of knowing that the documents presented to him were forged, that the girl was a Christian.The investigations claimed that the priest knew that the girl,” Riham”, is a Muslim girl and the documents he used to marry her to ,”Ayman”, are false and forged but still he announced them as a married couple. The verdict that sentenced the priest to five years imprisonment is wrong and depended only on the investigations executed by a police officer; which could be proven as false. It expressed the views of the one who made it but cannot be considered as a major clue; this is also a wrong application of the basics of trials in criminal courts, which requires the verdict to be built on truth and facts and not on suspicions or guesswork.The girl herself is the one who should be charged with forgery and not the priest as she is the one who is responsible for the documentation to have her ID issued by the government authorities. In addition, whether the girl is a Christian or a Muslim, as defined in many verdicts issued by the Court for Cassation, the Supreme Court in Egypt, the priest is not the official to prove if the documents are original or false. The priest executing marriage ceremonies is to check the identity cards of the couple, but he is not to investigate whether these documents are forged or not.Under Shari’s Law it is prohibited to leave Islam.The Egyptian government does not provide any legal means to convert from Islam nor legal procedure to adjust official document to bear the convert new Christian identity (in spite of Egypt is a signatory to Human Rights declarations and treaties).The whole christian population in the Middle East are appalled and do not see this as a criminal verdict but an attack on Christianity.New Life blog

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