Kom Ombo's missing Muslim woman returns home

Ahram Online , Saturday 9 Mar 2013

Local men gathered to understand the truth about a woman rumoured to have been kidnapped by the Church, ending sectarian violence in Kom Ombo

Kom Ombo
Crowd inside church during attacks(Photo: Ahram Online)

A Muslim woman rumoured to have left her family in Kom Ombo, Aswan and convert to Christianity has returned to her family. Her return has brought calm to an issue that has triggered sectarian violence in the city over the past week.

A sheikh addressed a crowd of men in Kom Ombo to explain the events and dispel any rumours that had been circulating.

"Some say that she had a relationship with a man [who convinced her to convert] and others claim that a woman used to visit her and talk to her about Christianity,” he began.

He said that a man from Cairo, a former Muslim and Christian convert, communicated with her via the internet and the phone.

Allegedly, the divorcee in her mid-30s, had expressed thoughts about converting to Christianity.

"He told her that no one will be able to help, not even Christians, except one priest in Cairo who is [expelled from the Church] because he's been attempting to convert Muslims," the sheikh said.

The crowd reacted angrily to this information, interrupting the Sheik.

"When we sat with [Church leaders] they told us that they [do not encourage] such acts and explained to us that this priest is expelled from the Church," he continued.

"This is a mere financial issue, the [man] came and told her 'I will help you' in exchange for EGP 3,500’

"We will bring the man here so that everyone can take revenge on him," he added.

The sheikh then talked to the crowds about Islamic values and presented some counter-arguments to issues in the Christian religion that affected the girl during her absence.

"The woman told us that she was not fully convinced of several things she was told [by Christians] including the concept of the Trinity," he said.

"She came and talked to us clearly, she said 'I do not know if I am right or wrong,'" he added.

"We asked her to write down every point of confusion and we replied to all her concerns – everything has an answer in our religion."

The sheikh said that curiosity had prompted the woman to leave; it is not known exactly where she had been staying during the past week.

"The woman’s brother had found a Christian hymn on her phone; when we asked her about it, the she said that she had asked for it... She obviously was... You see, the devil manipulates people's minds. She was curious," he said.

As the sheikh spoke, men from the crowds raised questions and points of concern to them.

"Do people who [encourage others to convert to Christianity] work through the internet?" one asked.

"Look, so that you know, the nearest person on such a network is from Luxor and the rest are from Cairo and Alexandria, they log on with fake names and we can't –" but he quickly reassures, "We will get to them all."

"Because we have already found three of them," he added.

Additionally, the sheikh responded to the crowds several times saying, "Anyone involved will be held to account."

The issue had sparked a lot of anger in Kom Ombo over the past week as anger rose against the town's Christian minority. Rumours had circulated that the Church had kidnapped her despite the woman's family’s assurances otherwise.

The city's largest Christian church, the Church of Mar Girgis, has come under attack by what residents describe as "unknown assailants." Hundreds of young boys and men were seen to surround the church and pelted it with rocks and Molotov cocktails.

Central Security Forces (CSF) and soldiers used teargas to repel the assailants and a field hospital was set up in a corner of the Church's courtyard as many were injured and sat inside the church for shelter.

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