Who is the most hated man in Egypt? Is it Mohammed Morsi, the deposed Moslem Brotherhood president? Is it Hosni Mubarak, the former deposed President of Egypt? Or perhaps it is General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the current Egyptian strongman who deposed Mohammed Morsi? No, I fear none of these gentlemen qualify as the most hated man in Egypt. Rather that title goes to Bishoy Armia Boulous, 31, formally known by his Moslem name, Mohammed Hegazy. Who is he, one might ask? Mr. Boulous gained infamy throughout Egypt in 2007, when he filed an application to change both his name and religion on his national identification card from Moslem to Christian. This event shocked Egyptians. Opinion polls in 2010 showed that 84 percent of Moslem Egyptians said that Christian converts from Islam should be executed by the government. In January 2008, a court ruled against Mr. Boulous on the grounds that Islamic Sharia law forbids conversion from Islam. According to a report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom at the time, “The court also stated that such conversion would constitute a disparagement of the official state religion and an enticement for other Muslims to convert.” In April 2010, an appeals court suspended the case indefinitely, as it awaited Egypt’s constitutional court to rule on a previous case dealing with religious identity. However, before those cases could be resolved, the 2011 revolution deposed the Murbarak regime, and the constitution was rewritten by the Moslem Brotherhood. Following the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government last July, another constitutional revision is presently underway. However, as a result of his application to change his name and religion, Mr. Boulous became a deeply hated figure, and his photographs appeared frequently on Egyptian media as a traitor to Islam.
Morning Star News has now reported that Mr. Boulous was arrested at a café on the morning of December 4th by Egyptian authorities, and is being investigated for inciting “sectarian strife.” How is Mr. Boulous inciting “sectarian strife?” Egyptian police claimed that Mr. Boulous was contributing to a “false image” that there is violence against Christians in Minya. Lieutenant Amr Hassan, the Baghdad Bob-like chief of police for Minya, told Egyptian media that reports of persecution against Coptic Christians in Minya are simply “not true.” However, since August 2013, both the city and province of Minya have been the site of numerous attacks on Christians, church buildings, and Christian-owned properties, which have been well documented by journalists and international human rights groups. As evidence of his purportedly evil deeds against the Egyptian state, upon Mr. Boulous’ arrest, Egyptian police said he was carrying a camera and four flash drives. Police further announced that he was working for The Way TV, a Coptic Christian-owned, U.S.-based television channel that broadcasts into Egypt via satellite. So there you go. There is compelling evidence that demands a verdict! However, The Way TV has denied that he worked for them. Many now fear for Mr. Boulous’ safety. Mamdouh Nakhla, chairman of the Kalema Organization for Human Rights, stated, “There is no doubt that he will be tortured. Those who have previously been in his place have been tortured – if not by the police, they are beaten by their fellow inmates.” Mr. Nakhla’s organization represented Mr. Boulous through part of his case to change his national identity card.
Mr. Boulous became a Christian believer in 1998. It is not at all surprising as some have estimated that there are at least several million Christian believers in Egypt who are not registered. In fact, most converts from Islam are secret Christian believers, and are not “officially” registered as such. However, Mr. Boulous challenged Egyptian authorities by publicly declaring his Christian faith. As a result, after his conversion, he was arrested several times by the State Security Investigations Service (“SSIS”). During one of his imprisonments, Mr. Boulous was tortured by SSIS agents for three days. Yet, he refused to recant his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Please pray for this dear Christian saint. If you wish to drop a note of support for justice for Mr. Boulous to the Egyptian Ambassador to the United States, you can write to Ambassador Tawfik at the following address:
H.E. Ambassador Mohamed M. Tawfik
Arab Republic of Egypt
3521 International Court, NW
Washington, DC 20008