Christian Convert Imprisoned and Tortured in Egypt Vows to 'Starve Himself to Death,' Lawyer Says
By Samuel Smith , CP Reporter
The Christian convert who made history by becoming the first person in Egypt's history to attempt to legally change his religious affiliation on his government identification from Islam to Christianity, has "vowed to starve himself to death" in response to his "illegal" imprisonment, his attorney said.
Bishoy Boulous, who is formerly known by his Muslim name of Mohammed Hegazy, was sentenced to five years imprisonment by an Egyptian court in July on the allegation of causing "sectarian strife."
Boulous' attorney, Karam Ghobrial, claims that the 32-year-old's detention is in "violation of the law" and that the charges against him were motivated by his original attempt in 2007 to have the Egyptian government legally recognize his conversion from Muslim to Christian, Front Page Magazine reports.
In July, a Minya Criminal Court judge sentenced Boulous, who was working as a reporter for a Coptic Christian television station at the time, for "disturbing the peace by broadcasting false information."
At the time, Boulous was producing a documentary regarding the social turmoil pertaining to Islamic attacks on Egyptian Christians.
Although Boulous' appeal hearing was scheduled for Nov. 16, it is unclear whether or not Egyptian State Security allowed him to travel from his prison in Cairo to attend the appeal hearing in Minya, which is over 150 miles away.
Ghobrial expressed concern a few days before the hearing that his client would not be allowed to travel to attend his own appeal hearing, which meant that his five-year sentence would have been confirmed.
"Bishoy is imprisoned in the execution room [in Cairo prison] in violation of the law. Trumped up charges against him have not been proven and he is being treated even worse," Ghobrial said. "He has not seen the light [of day] since being released from Minya's misdemeanor court."
Ghobrial further added that not only is Boulous imprisoned but he is also being tortured. Being tortured is not new to Boulous, who was detained and tortured over a span of three days by Egyptian police in 2001 after the government found out that he had converted to Christianity.
Boulous officially converted to Christianity in 1998 but officially acted to change his government religious affiliation by filing a lawsuit in 2007 when his wife, who is also a Christian convert, was pregnant. Under Egyptian law, when a baby is born he or she is assigned the religious affiliation of their father and affiliation can affect what churches they are allowed to attend and what religious classes they are allowed to be in.
Boulous' lawsuit to change his affiliation on his ID was denied in 2008, although he and his legal team at the time were not given a chance to present their case to the judge. Ghobrial said that his client was unfairly prosecuted in his "sectarian strife" case because of his relevance as the first person in the nation's history to request an official conversion from Islam.