Religious events in Egypt have lately taken a new direction. It is an open secret that the minority Copt Christians in the northern African country feel persecuted. Recently, a Copt bishop’s wife, Kamilia Shehata, it appears, decided to convert to Islam. Shortly afterwards, she changed her mind and left Islam for Christianity. A decision that stirred the ire of the Muslim majority with some calling for her death. But, Kamilia’s story is far from being the first of its kind. In 2004, another woman, Wafaa Costantine, who converted to Islam is said to have been forced to reconvert to Christianity. These cases might be overlooked as banal everyday occurrences in a country that has the Islamic Sharia law taking precedence in parts of its constitution. But whilst death threats may seem justifiable by religious precepts, the question is whether the Egyptian constitution protects all citizens. The conversion cases involving Kamilia Shehata and Wafaa Constantine follow the heels of another affair involving a man, El Gohary, who converted from Islam some 30 years ago. While the conversions have triggered protests in both the Copt and Muslim communities with some Muslims calling for the deaths of the so-called apostates, the legal protection of Egyptians irrespective of their religion, race or sex remains questionable. Indeed, all three cases, albeit separate, bring a hidden fear of the other to the fore. But above all, they reflect the inability of a lopsided legal system to alley the fears of citizens, and insure that whatever decision they make concerning their personal faiths does not see them falling prey to deadly faith-based anger.

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