Egypt Christian Convert Receives Death Threats From Judge

Thursday, January 29, 2009

By Eric Leijenaar, Worthy News Senior Special Correspondent

CAIRO/AMSTERDAM (Worthy News) -- A Netherlands based advocacy group expressed concern Thursday, January 29, over a young Christian convert in Egypt after a judge allegedly threatened to kill her for abandoning Islam and trying to flee Egypt because of harassment by family and police.

"The case underscores how difficult the situation is for Christians with a Muslim background," said Jan Vermeer, spokesman of Open Doors, which supports Christians who are reportedly persecuted for their faith.

Christians said 24-year old  Martha Samuel Makkar was threatened by a Cairo judge Saturday, January  24. The judge allegedly told her: "If I had a knife I would kill you now," after she refused to say she was still a Muslim.

Martha Samuel Makkar arrived at the court after she was already harassed for "five years  by family and local police," Vermeer told Worthy News  in a statement. "She didn't want to live in fear with her husband and her children and tried to flee to Russia, but airport staff was informed. Makkar was detained at the airport in Cairo."


Her husband was reportedly briefly detained while her children were temporarily staying with family members, Open Doors said. "Makkar has been mistreated by police and fellow prisoners. She says she also was sexually abused," Vermeer added.

Makkar has been charged with having "false identity papers" as she ensured the word 'Christian' behind her new name in her passport. "In Egypt it is almost impossible to change legally your religion from Muslim into Christian," Open Doors said. Authorities also detained to Coptic Christians who are suspected of having "helping" the young woman in "falsifying" her passport, observers of the case said. Their situation was not immediately clear Thursday, January 29.

Makkar's lawyer, Nadia Tawfiq, said in published remarks that the judge asked her extensively about her conversion to Christianity. "Eventually the judge wanted to be alone with her. We left the court and at that moment the judge told her: "Nobody changes his faith from Muslim to Christian. You are a Muslim."

After Marrak allegedly answered "No, I am Christian" the judge apparently said: "If I had a knife I would kill you now." Court officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Although Makkar was released on bail, her case isn't over yet. Three attorneys support the woman in the case, which will be heard by another judge, Open Doors said. Makkar apparently fears the next trial will not be more fair. "All judges are Muslims and against conversions," she reportedly told Christian news agency Compass Direct News.