By Raymond Ibrahim
According to attorney Karam Ghobrial (“Gabriel”), his client, Bishoy Armia Boulous, a Muslim convert to Christianity, remains illegally incarcerated and has “vowed to starve himself to death.”
Bishoy, more notoriously known as Mohammed Hegazy, is the first Egyptian ever to try legally to change his religious identity from Muslim to Christian on his official ID, prompting much shock and outrage in Muslim-majority Egypt.
Ghobrial further cited that Bishoy’s detention—in the execution room no less—is illegal, prompted solely by malicious charges against him, all of which stem from his original attempt to formally change his religious identity.
In the words of his lawyer: “Bishoy is imprisoned in the execution room in violation of the law. Trumped up charges against him have not been proven and he is being treated even worse. He has not seen the light [of day] since being released from Minya’s misdemeanor court.”
Bishoy was arrested in July 2014. Then, the judge in Minya cited “disturbing the peace by broadcasting false information” as the reason for sentencing the apostate, who in the weeks before was documenting political unrest in Egypt brought on by numerous Islamic attacks on Christians. He was eventually released, but then immediately scooped up again by State Security acting on behalf of Cairo, now under the charge of insulting the Islamic faith.
Bishoy’s lawyer further said that “the [current] judge is behaving in a prejudiced manner in this case because Bishoy had public announced his conversion to Christianity.” He stressed the “need for attention to this case, and escalating it, so everyone knows what this convert is being exposed to.”
Bishoy has been imprisoned for nearly six months, without any action being done in his case. He is being held on charges of “contempt to the Islamic religion” and reportedly spreading “false news” about the existence of State Security “torture chambers” where Muslim converts to Christianity are detained and tortured. Bishoy apparently refuses to recant this claim (quite possibly because he himself is now experiencing it first hand).
As lawyer Karam Ghobrial maintains, it is clear that the real reason his client is being tortured in prison—where he is being held illegally under ever morphing charges—has to do with what made Bishoy Armia, formerly Mohammed Hegazy, notorious in Egypt in the first place: his audacity not only to convert to Christianity, but to try formally to change his religious identity from Muslim to Christian on his ID card, prompting much enmity for him in Egypt.
In short, Bishoy is just another prisoner of conscience, just another born Muslim who wishes to be Christian—but whose actions have been deemed offensive to the state. His story occurs with great frequency all around the Islamic world. In nearby Iran, for example, Iranian-American Christian pastor Saeed Abedini—also seen as an apostate agitator—continues to rot in prison.