Monday, August 13, 2007

Death threats for Christian convert in Egypt

I heard Dennis Prager discussing this case on his program this morning, and it riveted me in place, as I tried to imagine how I would act were I to find myself in this man's place. Could I live up to his humbling example? Well as of now matching his bravery would be just a bit easier to imagine, since I am now armed with this amazing Christian's example to live up to.

An Egyptian Muslim, Mohammed Hegazy, converted to Christianity from islam 9 years ago, and now wants to change his "national ID card" to reflect his proper religion. He's had to go into hiding due to the amount of death threats he has been receiving from followers of the religion of peace:

"I know there are fatwas (religious edicts) to shed my blood, but I will not give up and I will not leave the country," the 25-year-old Hegazy told The Associated Press from his hideout Thursday.
Hegazy said he received telephoned death threats before he went into hiding in an apartment with his wife, a Muslim who took the name Katarina when she converted to Christianity several years ago. She is four months pregnant.
He said he wants to change the religion on his ID for two reasons: to set a precedent for other converts and to ensure his child can openly be raised Christian. He wants his child to get a Christian name, birth certificate and eventually marry in a church. That would be impossible if Hegazy's official religion is Muslim, because a child is registered in the religion of the father.
There is no Egyptian law against converting from Islam to Christianity, but in this case tradition takes precedent. Under a widespread interpretation of Islamic law, converting from Islam is apostasy and punishable by death though killings are rare and the state has never ordered or carried out an execution on those grounds.
Most Muslims who convert usually practice their new religion quietly or leave the country. Egypt is overwhelmingly Muslim. Only 10 percent of the 76 million population is Christian and converts are typically ostracized by their families. If the conversion becomes known, they may receive death threats from militants or harassment by police, who use laws against "insulting religion" or "disturbing public order" to target them.
"I started readings and comparative studies in religions," [Hegazy] said. "I found that I am not consistent with Islam teachings. The major issue for me was love. Islam wasn't promoting love as Christianity did."
What a brave, inspiring man. Who among us in the west can say they live in so full a manner the courage of their convictions. We may day-dream of ourselves as rebels, particularly when we are slouching through our self-absorbed young adult years, draping ourselves in black as we mourn lost childhood innocence; how puny this supposedly rebellious stance becomes, when placed in the light alongside persecution on such a scale. Who can pretend to even be having a truly bad day, after reading the fearful trials this poor man is suffering for his beliefs?

While Mr. Hegazy demonstrates an inconvenient courage for the hollow rebels of the west, it is even more so for the jihadists at war with the west and its values. Every breath he takes as a convert blows away the hypocracy masking the value system of islamists who invoke peace and mercy while threatening death and intolerance for those, like Mr Hegazy, who are willing to live through hell in order to assure their most treasured wealth, their families, can live closer to heaven.

God bless him for the strength he finds in his new faith, and the example he serves for the rest of us, seeking to live a modest life devoted to Truth, Liberty, and Justice. Words that must have a special meaning to Mr. Hegazy, in his struggle to find all three in the islamist world.

No comments: