Christian convert in Egypt goes back to jail directly after release

(Photo: REUTERS / Asmaa Waguih)A Coptic Christian clergyman conducts a feet washing ceremony on Holy Thursday at a church in central Cairo April 17, 2014.

Egyptian authorities arrested Christian convert from Islam, Bishoy Armia Boulous immediately after he was released on bail.

Local security officials on July 21 turned Boulous over to the Ministry of Interior to face blasphemy charges filed in 2009, Morning Star News reported.

Boulous, who is now 31, left Islam when he was 16.

He was charged with defaming Islam when he filed a public lawsuit to change his religious affiliation from Muslim to Christian.

Boulous was the first convert in Egypt to file a suit to change his legal religious identity.

Egyptian law states that every citizen aged 16 or older must carry a State-issued ID card. The religious identity determines many of the civil laws governing an individual.

Karam Ghobriel, one of Boulous' attorneys, told Morning Star News that Boulous was charged with defaming a revealed religion, and perverting a holy book or ridiculing a religious celebration.

He has also been charged with two counts of inciting public sedition.

Friends of Boulous believe that the real reason for his arrest was because of his rising fame as a jailed and tortured Christian convert in Egypt.

"He is still being mistreated badly by the officers," Ghobriel said. He adds that his client had experienced beatings while in the custody of Interior Ministry security officials.

"They told me, 'We're going to show him' because of his faith."

On December 2013, Boulous was charged with painting a "false image" of the violence against Christians in Minya.

Security forces in Minya claimed that Boulous was filming for a Coptic Christian TV channel, which the TV company has categorically denied.

Joseph Nasrallah, head of The Way TV, said on air, "The Tarik [Way] Channel had nothing to do with Mohammed Hegazy, who is known as Bishoy Armia Boulous, in any way...but we will never forsake him."

At the time of his arrest, Christians in Minya were suffering severe persecution, with kidnappings, assaults, and attacks on several church buildings.

Ghobriel said that in the midst of what has happened, his client believes that "his faith is getting stronger, and he feels God is giving him strength."

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