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Christian Captured and Threatened with Death after Trying to Leave Country

2 December 2003

The Christian husband of a Muslim convert to Christianity has been apprehended trying to leave Egypt. He was then held in the custody of a notoriously cruel and vindictive security official.

On Friday 28 November Egyptian Christian Bolis Rezek-Allah was arrested trying to leave the country. This was a desperate attempt to escape the mounting persecution he is suffering at the hands of the Egyptian authorities because of his marriage to Enas Badawi, a Christian converted from a Muslim background. After being apprehended at the Libyan border he was held for 12 hours, when a police database identified him, before being released.

Yesterday Rezek-Allah was again detained and taken to the HQ of the Security Police in Cairo, known as the Lazghouly Office, for interrogation. He was put in the custody of Hussein Gohar, a security officer who is notoriously vindictive towards converts from Islam and those close to them. Gohar has threatened Rezek-Allah that he will find his wife Enas (who is still being sought by police) even if she has gone abroad, and that once he has done so he will kill Enas in front of her husband. Rezek-Allah was released but police say they will continue to block him from leaving the country despite the fact that he has obtained the correct documentation to leave for Canada.

Bolis Rezek-Allah was originally singled out by police persecution in the summer of 2003, when he was arrested on the charge of marrying a Muslim. In accordance with shari'a (Islamic law), it is illegal in Egypt for a Christian man to marry a Muslim woman. Enas Badawi had actually converted from Islam to Christianity before the marriage, but since the Egyptian authorities do not recognise conversions to Christianity, she was still a Muslim in the eyes of the law. Rezek-Allah was initially held in prison for three months, during which time he was also accused of helping Muslims convert to Christianity.

The couple then decided to emigrate to Canada where Rezek-Allah, who is a pharmacist, hoped to find work. On 24 September Rezek-Allah was pulled off a flight bound for that country where he was due to take qualifying exams. On that occasion the police did not detain him, but have kept him under close surveillance since then and continue to prevent him from leaving the country.