By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
CAIRO, EGYPT (BosNewsLife)– Egyptian prosecutors have thrown out a case brought by an elderly Christian woman against several members of a Muslim mob who stripped off her clothes and paraded her naked through the streets, forcing the family to remain in hiding, BosNewsLife learned.
Last May’s assault in the central Minya province began over allegations that the son of the 70-year-old woman had an affair with a Muslim woman — a taboo in majority Muslim and conservative Egypt.
Last weekend’s decision by the prosecutors cited lack of sufficient evidence, said her lawyer, Eihab Ramzy. Another case against the alleged perpetrators of the violence, which also targeted Christian homes, remains ongoing.
The woman, Souad Thabet, said in published remarks that she and her family are unable to return home to this day because of threats by Muslim extremists in the village. In general BosNewsLife publishes names of victims of sexual abuse only if they agree to be named publicly. Despite the threats, local authorities are pressing the family to reconcile with Muslim villagers, Thabet told a U.S.-based Christian television network.
However, “the government is allowing the oppressors to walk free on the streets,” added the woman in the televised interview. “This is the village that we were born and raised in…. How can we be the victims, and not be able to return to our village and homes?”
Discrimination against Christians, who make up about ten percent of the population, is subtle in big cities like Cairo, the capital, or Alexandria, but much more pronounced in provinces like Minya where they are a sizable minority, according to advocacy group Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC), which closely followed the case.
President El-Sissi has since taking office in 2014 been reaching out to the religious leadership of Egypt’s Christian minority. He attended this month’s Christmas Mass for Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, the country’s main Christian denomination. Last month, he led a state funeral for the victims of a suicide bombing in a Cairo church that killed nearly 30 people, mostly women.
The bombing, claimed by the extremist Islamic State group, shook the community and raised questions about the adequacy of the security provided for Christian places of worship.
Rights activists have long maintained that el-Sissi has not done enough to address the discrimination faced by Christians, who they say are often denied top jobs in security agencies or academia.