FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 23, 2005
Contact:  The Rev. Dr. Keith Roderick; 202-498-8644, keith.roderick@csi-usa.org

Egyptian Government Targets Christian as Threat to National Security:

Former Muslim Preacher's Conversion Leads to Imprisonment


            WASHINGTON This week in Cairo, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized Egypt's use of emergency decrees. Christian Solidarity International (CSI) is protesting the arrest and continued imprisonment of Bahaa-Eldin El-Akkhad, a former Islamic preacher from Al Talebiya, Giza, in Lower Egypt.

             El-Akkad, 46, was arrested on April 6, 2005 under Egypt's Emergency Security Law for endangering national unity by converting to Christianity. Egyptian State Security Prosecutor Tarek Abdelshakour focused his interrogation of El-Akkad on allegations that he had defamed Islam.  

            After 45 days of incarceration, El-Akkad was transferred to Mazra'at Tora Prison in Cairo where political prisoners are held.    Human rights activists have described Tora Prison as the worst prison in Egypt, because of its rampant torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners.

            Though Egypt signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which calls for the freedom of religion, the government continues to arrest Christian converts who leave Islam.

            "The Egyptian government has pledged to the international community that it will work for democratic reform, yet it continues to violate its own rule of law when it comes to Christians and the free exercise of conscience," says Fr. Keith Roderick, CSI's Washington Representative.    

            Amnesty International and the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights have provided extensive documentation on the use of torture against those detained because of emergency legislation.

            CSI is demanding the immediate release of Bahaa El-Din El-Akkad and an end to the Egyptian government's policy of targeting those who convert from Islam, apostates, as political prisoners.  

            El-Akkad is married and has three children.  Prior to his conversion, he was associated with the Tabligh and Da'wa Committee in Al Telabiya.  The movement, known for its propagation and preaching, began in India and was founded by Imam Muhammad Kandahlawey in 1867.