CAIRO: The runaway wife of a Minya priest whose disappearance had sparked protests among Copts, will receive counseling from the church’s doctor after having reappeared a few days ago.
Kamilia Shehata Zakher, the wife of Tadros Samaan, a priest at the Saint Mark’s Church in Mowas Cathedral in Minya, has already begun psychotherapy sessions a church source told Daily News Egypt on condition of anonymity.
Zakher, 25, had disappeared on July 18 during a visit to her father in Cairo but the police managed to pin her down about a week later.
According to the police and the Church, Zakher had left after a domestic dispute.
"Kamilia was transferred from her family’s home in Ain Shams in Cairo to a church guest house to keep her away from the tension," the church sources said.
The church source also said that her husband Tadros could face disciplinary action when Pope Shenouda III returns from his health treatment trip to the United States on August 18.
Samaan will face charges of holding a demonstration inside the St. Mark’s Cathedral in Abbasiyya, following his wife’s disappearance, that almost led to sectarian clashes since much of the Coptic community falsely believed that Zakher was abducted and forced to convert to Islam.
Islamist lawyer Nabih Al-Wahsh sent an official notice to Pope Shenouda III, demanding the Pope issue an official statement to the state on behalf of the Church apologizing for the false accusations.
Al-Wahsh also demanded that the bishops who encouraged people to protest, also submit to a church trial for jeopardizing national security and inciting sectarian violence.
He further demanded that any gatherings inside the church be banned unless they are pre-approved by the government, as the Cathedral is a religious institution for performing religious rituals.
Recent amendments to the law governing houses of worship, ban holding protests or sit-ins inside mosques and churches.
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) demanded that Public Prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, interfere to guarantee that Zakher isn’t detained by her family or in one of the Christian monasteries.
EIPR issued a statement earlier this week expressing its concern over "official reports" that police "delivered" Zakher to her family based on the request of church officials.
The statement, a copy of which was obtained by Daily News Egypt, demanded that the Abdel Meguid interfere to guarantee Zakher’s physical and psychological well-being.
"Holding her against her will with her family or at the church is considered a crime according to Article 280 of the penal code and a violation of Article 41 of the constitution," the statement said.
Article 41 of the Egyptian constitution says that individual freedom is an inalienable right and shall not be violated.
Hossam Bahgat, director of the EIPR, told Daily News Egypt "Church leaders and police might think that they’ve suppressed the beginnings of a sectarian problem through ‘delivering’ a grown up citizen to her family like a piece of furniture, but the truth is that the whole society, including all its sects, loses when it gets involved in this flagrant violation of one of its citizens."
He added: "Everyone will realize that violating the law inflames sectarian tension instead of heals it."
Ramses El-Naggar, a lawyer representing the Coptic Church, told Daily News Egypt that "Kamilia is not being held by her family or by the church against her will. She merely had a dispute with her husband and left the house. When the police found her, she chose to stay with her family for some time."
Salib Mata Sawiris, a member of the Coptic Ecclesiastical Council, denied that Copts has accused anyone of abducting or converting Zakher.
He told Daily News Egypt: "We haven’t accused anyone of converting Kamilia to Islam or abducting her, all we asked for was her return."