The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Bishop's wife recants conversion

Wafaa Kostantin, the wife of a Coptic priest, has renounced her conversion to Islam and agreed to return to the Christian fold, Al Hayat reports today. The reason for her decision is that she "wanted to end the siege that had been imposed on her." The problem here would be that Islam is an easy religion to join, but not such an easy religion to leave. On paper, the consequence of converting out of Islam is death. The Egyptian public prosecutor, who it seems is responsible for this affair, avoided this problem by saying in his report that she never actually converted to Islam, and therefore she "only retreated from seductive thoughts about converting to Islam."

A group of Egyptian intellectuals, "most of them with Islamic leanings," have released a statement criticizing the government for "submitting to the blackmail of Coptic extremists by surrendering her to the church to be detained against her will."

The hypocrisy is plain as day here. A few days ago when it was thought that Kostantin had been pressured to convert to Islam by her boss in the civil service, there were protests and outrage in the Coptic community. The government, so as to avoid sectarian tensions, found the lady and handed her over to church officials who kept her under house arrest for 10 days while a team of four priests convinced her to return to the cross. Now who's pressuring who?