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Case Reopens in Egypt Against Muslim Men Accused of Stripping Elderly Christian Woman in Public

( [email protected] ) Feb 17, 2017 11:36 AM EST
The case against three men accused of dragging an elderly woman through the streets in a province south of the Egyptian capital, Cairo, after rumors spread that a Christian man had an affair with a Muslim woman has been reopened amid public outrage.
Egypt ranks 22nd on Open Door USA's World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution. Reuters

The case against three men accused of dragging an elderly woman through the streets in a province south of the Egyptian capital, Cairo, after rumors spread that a Christian man had an affair with a Muslim woman has been reopened amid public outrage.

Last month, charges were dropped against the three men over a reported lack of evidence, despite a public apology from the President and the 70-year-old woman, Soad Thabet, identifying the three men, according to World Watch Monitor. However, authorities continued to prosecute her son for allegedly having an affair with a Muslim neighbor's wife, as adultery is illegal in Egypt and there are laws against relationships between Christian men and Muslim women.

At the time, Thabet said, "I feel let down for a second time. I feel that nobody is standing by our side."

She added, "I was hoping that they will be punished. The people who comfort me say that Jesus was himself stripped naked. Now, I complain only to God, and hope he brings justice. Is there anyone stronger than God?"

However, on Friday, the case against the three men was reopened following an appeal by Thabet's legal team, who claimed that witnesses had gone back on their original testimonies after being threatened.

As earlier reported, the incident took place in May in the village of Karma in upper Egypt's Minya province. Thabet was beaten and insulted by the mob before being publicly stripped of her clothes. She was then paraded naked on the streets while the Muslim mob chanted Allahu Akbar, or "God is great."

"They burned the house and went in and dragged me out, threw me in front of the house and ripped my clothes," she told Reuters at the time. "I was just as my mother gave birth to me and was screaming and crying."

She added, "I wish they had only beaten me, no matter how hard, but not stripped me entirely naked as they did."

Two people were injured and seven homes torched by the Muslim mob, who first burned the house of the Coptic Christian man allegedly involved with the Muslim woman.

Minya's top Coptic Christian cleric, Anba Makarios, revealed that the police arrived at the scene nearly two hours after the attack and had been warned the day before of threats towards the Christian family from villagers, yet gave the mob "ample time" to do whatever they wanted.

"No one did anything and the police took no pre-emptive or security measures in anticipation of the attacks," he said. "We are not living in a jungle or a tribal society. It's incorrect for anyone to declare himself judge, police and ruler."

Amid public outrage, Egypt President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi condemned what he termed an "offense against an Egyptian woman", but failed to identify the victim as Christian. He vowed wrongdoers will be held accountable "no matter how numerous". Sisi ordered the military to rebuild the house for them, but Thabet said her family was still too frightened to return back to the village.

Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's population of more than 90 million people, have long complained of discrimination in the predominantly Muslim country.

Currently, the country ranks 21st on Open Door USA's World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution.

Tags : Egypt, Islamic extremist, coptic christian, Christian