Hundreds rally in solidarity with ‘converted’ priest’s wife

Approximately 500 activists protested two days ago following the taraweeh prayers to express solidarity with Kamilia Shehata, the wife of Priest Tedaous Samaan of Minya's Dayr Mawas Monastery.

Accounts of what happened to Shehata conflict, but the prevailing storyline and the version asserted by the protesters is that she fled her home in Minya a few weeks ago to embrace Islam before being tracked down by security and returned to the church.

The protesters urged Pope Shenouda III to "release” Kamilia and have her declare whether she has made the conversion to Islam.

Dozens of the protest participants were women accompanied by their children. They held banners urging the church to let Shehata speak for herself and called on President Hosni Mubarak to intervene for her protection.

Organizers of the protest distributed CDs and booklets telling the story of Shehata’s conversion to Islam. According to the story, Shehata fled to the home of a Muslim sheikh in Minya before going to Al-Azhar to officially convert to Islam. The official in charge at Al-Azhar, according to the protesters, refused to carry out his duties and then Shehata was “kidnapped” from the building.

Ten central security vehicles encircled the mosque as authorities prevented a large number of mosque-goers from participating in the protest.

The protesters said they intend to stage a fourth protest in front of Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque following the fitr prayers this Friday. They further threatened to organize a million-member protest in Abbasiya Square in front of the Coptic Cathedral if the “Church insists on hiding Kamilia.”

Meanwhile, the Coptic Orthodox Church has declined to comment on the protests. Sources from the church, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the church will not allow Kamilia to appear in the media, adding that the matter should be entirely left to the church.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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