CAIRO: “I don’t think it would benefit Christianity in any way if there is a person who believes in Islam, yet is labeled a Christian on his national identification card, said Mamdouh Nakhla, lawyer and president of the Word Organization for Human Rights at a press conference Tuesday.
Nakhla recanted his support for 25-year-old Mohamed Hegazy’s attempt to officially change his religion to Christianity on his national ID card.
At the Aug. 7 press conference, Nakhla announced he would withdraw the case he filed at the State Council Court last week on behalf of Hegazy. “For the sake of national unity and due to the turmoil this case has caused, I would like to announce my decision to retire from any legal action because the general climate is not at all favorable for such a case to be debated, Nakhla said.
Nakhla said one of the reasons he abandoned the case was because he did not want to break the paternal ties between Hegazy and his parents. He also cited that Hegazy did not provide the necessary documents required to proceed with the case.
At the same time, Nakhla reiterated that he would support a Christian’s choice to convert to Islam and even assist them in attaining that right as a part of his role as a human rights activist.
More significant was the presence of Mohamed Saad, a member of the Lawyer’s Syndicate’s freedom committee, who came to support Nakhla’s “courage in abandoning the case, while assuring all those present that Nakhla was “not a fundamentalist.
The only voice of dissent came from Romany Gaad, a member in the organization’s council of trustees, who abruptly interrupted the press conference, dismissing the whole event as a farce.
“Nakhla has come under intense pressure to change his stance, which included death threats to him and his family. The situation is all the more painful because not a single Egyptian human rights organization stood by us on this case, which is testing freedom of religion, said Gaad.
On the other hand, Hegazy’s father reportedly said that his son fell under the influence of missionaries who coerced him using financial means. Fathi Farid, Azhar University student and a close friend of Hegazy’s, refuted the idea that his friend converted for the sake of money.
“Hegazy comes from a relatively well-off family. I honestly don’t think he would do something like become a Christian for money, Farid said. He also predicts that Hegazy and Kefaya leader George Ishaq will be prosecuted by state security in the coming days for “politically motivated charges, which date back to the 2005 protests.
Ishaq said Hegazy left the Kefaya movement more than a year ago.