CAIRO (AFP) — An Egyptian Christian woman has been jailed for three years because her father's brief conversion to Islam 45 years ago made her legally a Muslim while her official papers said she was Christian, her lawyer said Thursday.
Shadia Nagui Ibrahim, 47, was charged with fraud for stating Christianity as her religion on her marriage certificate, unaware that her father's conversion to Islam in 1962 had made her officially a Muslim, Michael Maurice told AFP.
Nagui Ibrahim left home in 1962 when daughter Shadia was two years old, converted to Islam and took on the Muslim name Mustafa.
Three years later, after a reconciliation with his wife, he moved home and re-converted to Christianity. In the process, he got someone to forge his documents back to say he was Christian.
State reluctance to allow citizens to put their religion of choice on national identity cards means many seek forged documents that can result in criminal prosecution, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report earlier this month.
In 1996, the man who forged Ibrahim's documents was detained for falsifying dozens of documents and confessed to changing Ibrahim's papers.
Authorities detained Ibrahim and also informed his daughter that on paper, Ibrahim was still a Muslim and therefore so was she. Children in Egypt automatically take their father's religion.
Under Egyptian law it is also illegal for a Muslim woman to marry a Christian man.
She was charged with "providing false information on official documents" for stating she was Christian on her marriage certificate in 1982.
After a lengthy trial, she was sentenced to three years in absentia in 2000 but the case was subsequently dropped.
She was detained again in August this year and sentenced to three years on Wednesday after just one brief court session, her lawyer said.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »