Egyptian Court Dismisses Muslim Case Against Christian Woman
Written by Mary Abdelmassih, AINA
Wednesday, 29 June 2011
(AINA) -- The Egyptian administrative court of the State Council
dismissed today the lawsuit filed by Muslim lawyers, demanding the
disclosure of the whereabouts of Camilia Shehata, the wife of a Coptic
priest, who was alleged to have converted to Islam and held against her
will by the Coptic Church. In reaching its decision, the court said the
Muslim lawyers failed to provide proof to support their claim of the
detention of Camilia by the church.
Camilia's attorney, Dr. Naguib
Gabriel, said "The only thing the Muslim lawyers delivered as proof for
their claims were snippets of newspapers from the Internet."
case lasted over four months, during which Dr. Gabriel submitted as
proof unequivocal documents that Camilia was never detained by the
church and she never converted to Islam as alleged. Among the documents
was a power of attorney from Camilia for him to represent her at court.
"This was issued by the public notary, by a Muslim employee and in which
she wrote "Christian" beside her religious affiliation, while she could
have easily written Muslim instead." said Gabriel. "If she was really
detained by the church, she could have asked for help from the employee
when she went to the notary," he added. Also, a certificate from
Al-Azhar stating that she never converted to Islam was presented as
The prosecution also heard the testimony of Bishop
Armiya, secretary to Pope Shenouda III, who denied the church had
detained her. It also took the testimony of Anba Agapios, Bishop of Deir
Mawass, Minya Governorate, who also refuted the charge.
the court had responded to the Muslim lawyers' demands regarding
Camilia's conversion to Islam, saying the issue was the beliefs of
people, but whether there was a detainment or not. Also, the Muslim
lawyers had demanded Camelia appear in person before the court, which
was refused by the court.
"Today's court ruling closes the curtain
on one of the most famous and difficult cases in Egypt." said attorney
Dr. Gabriel. "Muslims will not be allowed to demonstrate regarding this
matter anymore, which they used as a pretext to create sectarian strife
between Muslims and Christians."
The story of Camelia Shehata,
which became a public issue for the last 11 months, started on July 19,
2010, when after a dispute with her husband, Father Tedaos Samaan,
priest at St. Georges Church in Deir Mawas, she left home and went to
Cairo to stay with relatives, without telling anyone of her whereabouts.
"This was my biggest mistake," said Camilia in an interview with
Al-Hayat Christian TV Channel from her hide-out with her husband and
Her husband, believing she was abducted by
Muslims, like many other cases, came with some 3000 Copts from his
congregation to protest her disappearance at St. Mark's Coptic Cathedral
in Cairo (AINA 7-23-2010").
Security found her a few days later and handed her over to her sister
who lives in Cairo. She later reconciled with her husband and the family
has lived in hiding ever since, as Muslim demonstrations started to
take place, demanding the return of "their sister in Islam, Camelia."
photos of Camilia in a Hijab appeared on the internet and over 20
demonstrations were staged by Muslim, accusing the church of abducting
new converts (females) to Islam and holding them against their will in
churches and monasteries, where they were tortured (AINA 9-18-2010).
appeared in a video clip from her hideout, taken under utmost security
by the independent daily El-Youm7, in which she denied ever converting
to Islam (video).
The Muslims said it was not Camilia but was her double who appeared,
and carried on with their demonstration, the last of which was on April
30, when they encircled the Coptic Cathedral and the Pope's residence
vowing that "Camilia must return" (AINA 4-30-2011).
Camelia appeared for a second time on May 7, in a one-hour interview on
Al-Hayat TV, in which she denied all Muslim claims of ever having met
any of them or having been to Al Azhar with them. On both occasions she
confirmed her Christian faith.