Or, a woman claiming to be that woman. Only the first interview with an Islamic group was reportedly done in person. After all, “War is deceit.” “Woman Who Sparked Muslim Attacks on Christians in Egypt is Under Investigation,” by Mary Abdelmassih for the Assyrian International News Agency, May 13:
(AINA) — The unprovoked attack by Muslim Salafis on Copts in Embaba on May 7, which killed 14, injured 232 and destroyed two churches, was sparked by a Muslim man, Yassin Thabet, allegedly searching for his wife, who he claims was held captive and tortured by a church in Embaba, Giza (AINA 5-8-2011). The woman was later identified as Ms Abeer Talaat, a Christian from Assiut in Upper Egypt, who converted to Islam in September 2010. Although still waiting for the divorce from her Christian husband to come through, she was also unofficially married to Yassin Thabet, a Muslim driver she knew from her village, and lived with him in Benha since her conversion to Islam, according the official Al-Ahram newspaper.
In the last few days a woman claiming to be Abeer Talaat gave several conflicting audio interviews to the media, never in person, except for the first one made with the radical Islamic al-Jamaa Islamia in Egypt.
In Abeer’s first interview she claimed that after her conversion to Islam, her family handed her over to the Church in Assuit, where she was transferred from church to church until she was brought to St. Mark’s Cathedral in Abasiyya, Cairo. “They pressured me to abandon Islam and I pretended to agree because I was afraid they would harm me,” Abeer said. She went on to say she was placed in a special home which was like a prison with iron windows, near St. Mina Church. “Only a nun was to open the door just to provide me with food. They wanted to force me to change my papers in the civil registry to reflect reverting back to Christianity.
She said she called Yassin Thabet to save her.
In all other subsequent audio interviews on TV, she made changes to her original story, confirming she was not tortured in any church, and that she was at St. Mina’s church and left when the fighting took place. In her last interview with Al-Jazeera the interviewer challenged her with questions, especially inquiring whether she stayed at the church by her own free will or not. She refused to answer this question. The full transcript of the interview is below.
“With every interview she wanted to prove, through lies and allegations, that the church abducts Christian converts to Islam, locks them in churches and monasteries and tortures them until they agree to revert back to Christianity,” said Coptic activist Mark Ebeid, “which is what the Salafis have claimed over the last year in their protests for Camelia Shehata, the wife of the Coptic priest (AINA 9-18-2010), as an excuse to search these churches.”
And to do whatever damage they please in the process.
Father Freij Fahmi, priest of St Mina Church denied Abeer’s allegations, adding that “the church does not detain anyone and our doors are always open. Besides if she came out of the church as she claims, why did she not identify herself to those who attacked the church and who were looking for her, so that they would have calmed down and stayed away from the church and all those Christians would not have been killed.”
Ali Abdel Rahman, the governor of Giza, said after investigation “There is no woman held captive in the Saint Mina Church in Embaba.” Mohamed Ali, Imam of al-Toba mosque in Embaba, told elYoum7 on Sunday “the story is a lie.” Ali said he spoke Yassin Thabet before he went to church and he seemed to him “hesitant and illogical.” Yesterday the fact-finding committee of the National Council for Human Rights gave their report on the Embaba violence and among its findings it said that they could not verify Abeer Talaat’s claims.
In an article titled “Never mind about Camelia, take Abeer”, published today Almasry Alyoum, renowned writer Khaled Montasar suggested that after the Islamists lost the case of Camelia Shehata, the priest’s wife who they claimed had converted to Christianity and was being held against her will by the church, they manufactured another “victim” in the person of Abeer Talaat. Camelia came out of her self-imposed seclusion to confirm that she is a Christian and she never converted to Islam.
Yesterday forty six Islamist lawyers filed a complaint with the Attorney against Pope Shenouda III, demanding the Pope open churches and monasteries for inspection to verify of the existence of weapons, and illegal places for the detention of citizens.
This evening it was reported that Ms Abeer Talaat is to be detained for a fortnight, and may be charged, pending investigations, with incitement to sedition, claiming to be unmarried and instigating the events which caused killing of civilians in the clashes that took place between Muslims and Christians.
A transcript of the Al Jazeera interview follows at the AINA link above. Read it all.