A Christian man who was imprisoned in Egypt after attempting 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 a journalist formerly known as Mohammed Hegazy, was sentenced to five years in prison by an Egyptian court in July on the allegation of causing "sectarian strife" following his conversion to Christianity, reports MCN.
Boulous' attorney, Karam Ghobrial, says 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.
According to the report by Front Page Magazine, Bishoy has "vowed to starve himself to death" while in prison.
"The [current] judge is behaving in a prejudiced manner in this case because Bishoy had public[ly] announced his conversion to Christianity, [stressing] the need for attention to this case and escalating it so everyone knows what this convert is being exposed to," Ghobrial said.
In July, a Minya Criminal Court judge sentenced Boulous for "disturbing the peace by broadcasting false information." At the time of his arrest, Boulous was working as a reporter for a Coptic Christian television station producing a documentary detailing the violent nature of Islamic attacks on Egyptian Christians.
"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."
Boulous has been called "Egypt's best known convert from Islam," officially converting to Christianity in 1998 because 'Islam wasn't promoting love as Christianity did.' He officially acted to change his government religious affiliation by filing a lawsuit in 2007 when his wife, who is also a Christian convert, became pregnant.
Boulous' lawsuit to change his affiliation on his ID was denied by the Egyptian government in 2008, even though he and his legal team were not given a chance to present their case to the judge.Ghobrial said that his client was wrongly prosecuted in his "sectarian strife" case due to his relevance as the first person in the nation's history to request an official conversion from Islam.
"Mr Hegazy's continued detention casts doubt on assurances of religious freedom in Egypt's new constitution," says Release International, "and reflects the vulnerability of Christians in Egypt - especially those from a Muslim background."