Mariam Girgis Makar "seemed well" despite signs of torture
By Stefan J. Bos
Special Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
CAIRO, EGYPT (ANS) -- A 30-year old Egyptian Muslim convert to Christianity, who made world headlines, has been re-united with her family after nearly two months "of torture while under interrogation," a human rights watchdog said Monday Dec. 8.
Mariam Girgis Makar, seen as a symbol of suffering endured by converts, "seemed well" despite the abuse, announced Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), which investigates the plight of persecuted Christians.
She and her husband Yusef Samuel Makari, 42, were the first of 22 coverts and supporters to be arrested in late October on charges of forging identity cards for Muslims wishing to change their names and religious affiliation from Islam to Christianity.
While a Christian who converts to Islam in Egypt can receive new ID papers with a new Muslim name within 24 hours, there is no reciprocal arrangement for a Muslim who converts to Christianity, forcing many to change cards illegally, say human rights groups.
BEATEN IN CUSTODY
Makari said recently that he and his wife were interrogated and beaten while in custody in the capital Cairo. "The conditions were very bad...Sometimes we were badly treated and insulted in front of each other. She was tortured more than me," he explained.
All 22 arrested were beaten during interrogation, but Mariam Girgis Makar was the last from this group to be released last week on bail, which was reportedly set at 1000 Egyptian pounds ($162) pending a new court hearing in the near future.
Christians from around the world had been praying for the young woman and her family, ASSIST News Service learned.
ADOPTED CHRISTIAN IDENTITIES
Makar and Makari converted from Islam to Christianity several years ago, adopted Christian identities, and moved from Cairo to Alexandria where they have been living openly as Christians with their two young daughters, Marina, 13, and Sara 12.
CSW has urged the Egyptian authorities "to respect and uphold Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guaranteeing freedom of religion, to which Egypt is a state party."
"In particular, CSW calls on the state to remove the religious affiliation category from identity cards," the organization said in a statement to ANS. Egypt is with about 66 million people Africa's second largest country by population after Nigeria.
While Egypt is mainly Muslim oriented, it has a vibrant Christian minority, according to human rights workers and analysts.
The CSW can be reached at website: http://www.csw.org.uk