Cairo: April 17, 2010. (By Mary Abdelmassih AINA) -- Dina el-Gowhary, the 15-year-old Egyptian Muslim-born girl who converted to Christianity, was subjected to an acid attack
the latest in a string of failed attempts by Muslim fanatics against her and her father, 57-year-old Peter Athanasius (Maher el-Gowhary), who converted to Christianity 35 years ago. Several Fatwa's were issued calling for the "spilling of his blood," which makes their lives in constant danger in the face of the reactionaries and advocates for the enforcement of Islamic apostasy laws, which call for the death of a convert.
Dina said that three weeks ago as she ventured out from their hiding place in Alexandria with her father to get some bottled water, her jacket was set on fire due to acid being thrown at her. "My father quickly took my jacket off before the fire reached my arms. Ever since then I am terrorized to go out in the street, with or without my father."
Through an aired interview with Freecopts advocacy Dina addressed an open letter to President Mubarak of Egypt begging him to save her and her father and allow them to leave Egypt.
She said that she had written previously to President Obama, who got her message and responded to it (AINA 11-17-2009). It was reported that the el-Gowharys met with the US Committee on International Religious Freedom on their last visit to Egypt in January 2010, and that they have asked for asylum in the United States (Fox News video).
Dina wonders whether she will get the same attention from President Mubarak as she did from President Obama. "Will he listen and lend us a helping hand, if, as they claim, he truly does not differentiate between Muslim and Christian citizens?" She asked the Egyptian President, who newly became grandfather to a baby girl "Do you accept that your granddaughter would live under the same conditions like mine? I have no home, I am always afraid when I go to church or even go out in the street, I have no friends and no education."
In her letter to President Mubarak, Dina expressed her deep distress at the mistreatment and continuous troubles she finds everywhere she goes, including being beaten and humiliated. She tells of how "because of her love for Jesus" she left her Muslim mother and went to live with her Christian father, abandoning school where she was persecuted by teachers and students. "I was threatened many times before. Once coming back from school, a bearded young man stepped out of a car, lifted me through my clothes from the ground and warned me that if my father and myself do not go back to Islam, both of us will be killed."
Dina, now living with her father for the last two years, has to move with him from one place to another in search of personal safety for both, in the face of the many threats that they experienced since her father declared his conversion to Christianity and his desire to his change religious designation in official documents.
In June 2009 a Court refused his request to order the Civil Registry to alter his religious designation on his ID to reflect his Christian religion and his Christian name, Peter Athanasius. The Court ruling said that the religious conversion of a Muslim is against Islamic Sharia law and poses a threat to the "Public Order" in Egypt. He appealed the Court ruling (AINA 6-16-2009).
In the Freecopts interview, Dina says that she hopes that President Mubarak will help them to leave Egypt in order for them to live normally and for her to continue her education.
The el-Gowhary family was barred from leaving Egypt on September 17, 2009 without any legal reason. They were told, however, that the order came from a higher authority. To this today, says Maher, he does not know why he is barred from travel and which authority exactly is barring him (AINA 9-26-2009).
He explained, in a interview with Freecopts this week, the extremely difficult circumstances they are living under, being hunted the whole time and with many attempts on their lives. "It is only due to the Grace and Protection of God, that we are still alive until today," he adds.
"Why did they confiscate our passports? What have we done wrong?" said Dina. "The only thing we did is that we loved Jesus with all their hearts and converted to Christianity." The teenage girl stressed that whatever the government does or will to them to force them to abandon Christianity is in vain. "We will never leave Christianity and we will never ever revert back to Islam. Jesus is simply etched in our hearts," she said.