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20 October 2006


medium_20061018eg001.2.jpg(Compass Direct News)A Muslim sheikh jailed in Egypt for 18 months has declared from his prison cell that he is under arrest for “insulting Islam” by becoming a Christian

El-Akkad was imprisoned without charges for more than a year after officials of the State Security Investigation (SSI) arrested him in Cairo on April 6, 2005.

Although subjected to repeated interrogations, the former Muslim was never told the specific accusations against him. But several of his cellmates spread rumors that he was converting and baptizing people into Christianity, sparking verbal abuse and at least one severe beating from a fellow prisoner.

When the courts finally ordered El-Akkad’s release from provisional detention 10 weeks ago, SSI authorities deliberately ignored the ruling. Instead, they held him in their Gaber Ibn Hayyan office in Giza and then transferred him to the Wadi el-Natroun Prison, located 60 miles north of Cairo along the highway to Alexandria.

William told Compass it was strictly illegal for the SSI to have re-arrested El-Akkad and jailed him indefinitely “without the orders of a legally authorized official,” as required under Article 280 of the Egyptian penalty laws.

Disillusioned with Islam

In a series of handwritten notes smuggled out of prison in recent months and obtained by Compass, El-Akkad declared that he had “chosen the Christian faith” after years of research on Islam.

For more than 20 years, the former sheikh was a member of the fundamentalist Islamic group Tabligh and Da’wa, which actively proselytized non-Muslims but strictly opposed violence. He also led a mosque community in Al-Haram, in the Giza area adjacent to Cairo. In 1994 he had published, Islam: the Religion, a 500-page book reviewing the traditional beliefs of the Islamic faith.

But he became disillusioned, and five years ago the sheikh said he began to pray that he could somehow know God personally. It was not until January 2005 that he talked for the first time with someone who explained the tenets of the Christian faith to him. He began intensive study of Christian Scripture, and within weeks he became a follower of Jesus.

“This is a proof to all Muslims,” El-Akkad wrote, “that the person who studies the two religions from an objective and serious perspective will choose the Christian approach.”

But within two months, word of El-Akkad’s conversion to Christianity had reached the SSI, and secret police picked him up without warning from his private trade office.

Family Waits in Vain

After six weeks in SSI detention, El-Akkad was sent to Cairo’s Tora Mazraa Prison. When his lawyer, William, finally obtained power of attorney to visit the convert, he was told he was incarcerated under emergency law provisions on suspicion of “committing blasphemy against Islam.”

For the following year, El-Akkad’s detention was renewed every 45 days under emergency law provisions, even though he still had not been formally charged.

But this past July, authorities instituted a new law restricting provisional detention regulations, specifying that the length of provisional detention for a misdemeanor should not, “whatever the circumstances,” exceed six months.

El-Akkad was accused of “insulting a heavenly religion,” a misdemeanor under Article 98-F of the Egyptian penal code. So a Cairo court ordered him released on July 30.

After learning of the court-ordered release, El-Akkad’s wife and three children waited in vain for him to return home. Ten days later, William finally confirmed that although the convert had been released from prison, he remained in SSI custody in Giza.

Desert Prison medium_20061018eg001a.2.jpg

By mid-September, authorities transferred El-Akkad to the maximum security Wadi el-Natroun Prison, where the majority of Egyptian Islamists sentenced for anti-government activities are incarcerated.

Notorious for its Spartan conditions in the desert, the prison facility houses its prisoners in small cells measuring one by two meters.

According to William, his client is in weak health from prison, suffering from high blood pressure as well as skin diseases caused by extreme temperatures, unsanitary cell conditions and bites from insects and small reptiles.

“He is locked in a place where he may die because his age, body and mind cannot tolerate this cruelty and stubbornness of the state security authorities,” William said.

The attorney has received no response from a petition he filed to Attorney General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud on September 4 citing serious legal violations in El-Akkad’s case.

Although Egypt’s Christian citizens are free to embrace Islam and obtain legal Muslim identities, Muslim citizens are not allowed to change their religious identity. Those who become Christians are subjected to severe harassment by the SSI, which often arrests converts for either insulting Islam or “threatening national security.”

12:15 Posted in Egypt | Permalink | Comments (6) |  Facebook |



Posted by: ADMIAN | 20 October 2006

Yusuf Estes (born 1944), is an American convert to Islam. He was brought up in a Protestant Christian family; they were members of the Disciples of Christ. Estes was known then as Skip Estes.

From 1962 until 1990, he had a varied career as a music minister, preacher, and the owner of Estes Piano and Organ Company. He lived in Texas and Florida.

In 1991, Estes had business dealings with an Egyptian Muslim. He learned about the religion firsthand and converted to Islam the same year along with his wife and father and step mother. He has since pursued Arabic language and Quranic studies in Egypt, Morocco and Turkey.

His Islamic activities include:

Volunteer imam in a Texas military installation.
Chaplain for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, starting 1994.
Delegate to the United Nations Peace Summit for Religious Leaders in August of 2000.
University guest speaker.
Television preacher, syndicated television programs on satellite and cable networks.
Maintaining Islamic websites.

Posted by: PASTOR CONVERTS TO ISLAM | 20 October 2006

She used to be a Southern Baptist, a radical feminist and a broadcast journalist. Now Aminah Assilmi is an ambassador of Islam.

The director of the International Union of Muslim Women, Assilmi calls Fairfield, Ohio, home. She travels the country speaking on college campuses, increasing public awareness and understanding of the faith.

She wears the traditional Islamic hijab, which includes a head scarf, covering her hair and neck and modest clothing with long sleeves.

Last week at the University of Tennessee, Assilmi spoke to a near-full audience on the status of women in Islam in her lecture, "A Muslim woman speaks from behind the veil."

Assilmi cautions critics who say that women are oppressed in some predominately Muslim countries. She says their practices are cultural, not Islamic.

"People who are held down, are held down by ignorance," she said. "They follow cultural practices. Do not judge Islam by these individuals who have only practiced like the people in their family."

But, Assilmi told audiences, she hasn't always been a Muslim and a proponent of Islam.

Meeting her first "real life Muslims" when she took a college theater class some years ago, Assilmi said she almost dropped the class when she walked into the room and saw some Arab students in traditional hijab.

In the handbook she authored, "Choosing Islam," Assilmi writes, "There was no way I was going to sit in a room with dirty heathens. .. I shut the door and went home."

After her husband encouraged her to go back to the theater class, Assilmi said she felt it her duty to "convert the poor, ignorant Muslims."

Hoping to convert the students to Christianity, Assilmi began to study the Koran, the holy book of Islam, in a quest to prove that Mohammed was a false prophet and that Islam was not a valid religion.

But the more she read, the more she became interested in Islam. She was particularly interested in what the Koran had to say about men and women.

Islamic women, she thought, "were freely beaten by their husbands and tossed aside."

Assilmi says she had based her opinion on stereotypes; and soon found out those ideas were not in keeping with the Koran.

Through intense study, she said she learned that Islamic women are equal to men and are paid according to the job they do regardless of their gender. Both men and women have equal rights to education. Islamic women have had the right to own property for more than 1,400 years. And when a woman marries, she does not change her last name, but keeps her father's last name.

Thus, Assilmi told her college audience, "We remain our own distinct individual."

"For two years I studied in order to convert Muslims to Christianity," she said.

But during that time Assilmi said she started to change. Her husband began to notice that she no longer had an interest in going to bars or parties. She was content to stay home and study the Koran.

"I was quiet and more distant," Assilmi writes in her handbook.

Her husband attributed the changes in her to another man and the couple separated.

After she moved out with their three children, Assilmi was visited by a Muslim holy leader who answered her questions about the faith. He asked her if she believed in only one God and Assilmi said yes. He asked her if she believed Mohammed was His messenger. Again she said yes.

"He told me I was already a Muslim. I argued that I was a Christian, I was just trying to understand Islam. I couldn't be a Muslim! I was an American and white!

"We continued talking. Later he explained that attaining knowledge and understanding of spirituality was a little like climbing a ladder."

The first rung on the ladder was the Shahadah, a statement of belief that there is no God but the one God and Mohammed was his messenger. The Shahadah, done before witnesses, is in the Islamic faith, the Christian equivalent of a statement of belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

For Assilmi, taking Shahadah in 1977 was the first step toward a a deeper understanding of Islam.

But she still had a few hang-ups -- like hijab. Hijab is the modest dress worn by both Muslim men and women; however its most recognizable feature is the head scarf worn by women.

"I agreed with modesty, but I was vain about my hair," Assilmi said. "The Koran tells us to cover ourselves to be identified as Muslims. I am a Muslim and I know what my God-given rights are. Hijab is not a requirement or restriction, but a right and a privilege. I would fight to the death to wear it."

Posted by: Former Baptist explains why she is now a Muslim | 20 October 2006

Christianity is dying. The signs are everywhere. Ottawa's Catholic Archbishop Marcel Gervais and Chicago's Cardinal Francis George both have recently told audiences that Catholicism is dead. "It has shown itself unable to pass on the faith in its integrity and is inadequate," said Cardinal George.

Posted by: MUSLIM | 20 October 2006

Dr Garry Miller a very important Christian missionary converted to Islam and became a major herald for Islam may Allah reward Dr Miller.

Posted by: Major Canadian Christian Missionary Converts to Islam | 20 October 2006

why can't muslims and christians just live together in peace? why couldn't we just understand the others religion and believe in what we want to believe. if somebody believes in something, they'll have their reasons.
anyway, God will judge us on doomsday. nobody else can do that. None of the muslims and none of the christians.

why can't we just live in peace together?

Posted by: Schalom | 23 October 2006

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