CAIRO: Lawyer Nizar Ghorab filed a complaint against the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar and the Minister of interior over the case of a priest’s wife, who he claimed was planning to convert to Islam but was forcibly handed back to the church.
Kamilia Zakher, 25, the wife of Tadros Samaan, a priest at the Saint Mark’s Church in Mowas Cathedral in Minya had disappeared from her hometown for a few days before returning to the church.
Sources inside the church denied any rumors of her conversion and said that she had left following a domestic dispute.
Ghorab, however, claims in his complaint that Zakher had actually gone to Al-Azhar to convert but that the Grand Sheikh refused her request, which he believes is a failure on his part to fulfill his duties according to the law and the constitution and that he had succumbed to pressure from the police.
Sheikh Saeid Amer, Secretary General of Al-Azhar’s Fatwa Committee and the man responsible for officiating the conversion of Egyptian Copts to Islam, denied that Zakher wished to convert.
“Kamilia never came to Al-Azhar and we know nothing about her,” he told Daily News Egypt.
Ghorab’s complaint demanded the Prosecutor General investigate the case and visit Kamilia’s residence to verify whether she converted or wished to convert to Islam.
Zakher disappeared for six days last month until the police returned her to the church. Both the police and the church declared that Zakher was staying with a friend in Cairo after a dispute with her husband.
She was then handed back to the church where she is currently receiving psychological counseling.
“Kamilia’s conversion is just a rumor; it is a marital dispute,” said Bishop Aghabious of Mowas. “She is receiving treatment to help her get over the crisis and move on with her life.”
The Orthodox Church’s legal Counsel Ramsis El-Naggar told Daily News Egypt that “those rumors are meant to cause confusion and tensions between the church and the state,” adding that “these rumors are usually driven by extremists who want to spread their ideas all over society.”
Coptic intellect Gamal Assad described the crisis as reflecting a “state-church collusion whether in Kamilia’s case or other crises.”
“Kamilia’s crisis and Wafaa Costanteen’s case before her, is an attempt to justify the inspection of monasteries, which Muslims [object to the fact that they] have no state power over them,” Assad said.
Assad continues to criticize the church.
“What citizenship rights is the church calling for when the state hands over those who wish to convert to Islam back to the church? This is illegal and violates human rights by forcing them to stay into hiding.”
“The only solution is to let her speak to the media and deny any intention to convert to Islam,” added Assad.
Kamal Zakher, Coordinator of Secular Copts Front, believes that everybody who threatens national security should be in court.
“The church goes on fire if a woman disappears, while if a [Muslim] woman did that nothing happens,” said Zakher, adding that dealing with conversion this way fuels sectarian tension.
This report has been edited to correct the affiliation of Ms. Kamilia Zakher’s husband.