Egypt: Why Are Christian Girls Converting to Islam?
by Raymond Ibrahim
Few things in Islam are as liable to provoke passion and violence as the issue of conversion. The health hazards involved in converting out of Islam—apostatizing—are well known. But even the issue of convertingto Islam is fraught with drama. Consider Egypt alone: in recent months, wild rampages, burned churches, and murdered Christians have resulted over a few Christian women converting to Islam.
"Mature sincerity": Coptic girl piously announces her conversion to Islam on video – only to start laughing when asked for details, saying "there's nothing more."
The most notorious case revolves around Camelia Shehata, the wife of a Coptic priest. Muslims kept circulating rumors that she had converted to Islam, only to be "kidnapped" by the Coptic Church, which was supposedly torturing her into returning to Christianity (a clear case of Muslim projection). Even though Shehata appeared on videos insisting she never converted, and would die a Christian, Muslims still kept rioting—and even filed a lawsuit demanding that her whereabouts be disclosed, which was recently dismissed forlacking evidence by an Egyptian court.
Likewise, there was last May's Imbaba terror attack—which left 12 Christians dead, hundreds injured, and three churches burned. It, too, was initiated by a rumor (subsequently proven false) that another female Coptic convert to Islam, Abir, was being held and tortured in a church. Then there is the ongoing issue of teenage Coptic girls disappearing and being reported alternatively as kidnapped by Muslims or as willing converts to Islam, depending on who is reporting.
Why this obsession with real or imagined converts to Islam, to the point of chaos and violence? Muslim intellectual Khaled Montaser, in an Arabic op-ed, offers useful insights on Islam's "inferiority complex" as revealed through the issue of conversion:
We Muslims have an inferiority complex…feeling that our Islamic religion needs constant, practically daily, confirmation by way of Europeans and Americans converting to Islam. What rapturous joy takes us when a European or American announces their [conversion to] Islam—proof that we are in a constant state of fear, alarm, and chronic anticipation for Western validation or American confirmation that our religion is "okay."
This raises another question: If Islam, as many Muslims insist, is intrinsically appealing to potential converts, why is it always young Coptic girls—as opposed to, say, adult Coptic males—who are always being championed as converts to Islam in Egypt?
The answer is self-evident. Consider Abir, whom Muslims went on a destructive rampage over: she admits she converted to Islam simply to divorce her Christian husband; Muslim authorities say she doesn't know the first thing about Islam. As for girls converting to Islam, one finds it curious that of all segments of Coptic society, it is their teenage girls who are seeing the "light" of Islam. A more realistic explanation is thatWahhabi dollars are fueling the Islamization of these kids.
This video of a Coptic teenage convert to Islam says it all. She starts off wearing a veil and piously announcing her conversion to Islam, because she found the truth in it; after a few seconds, she strips the veil off to breathe and giggles. The cameraman yells "tell us some more on why you converted," but she continues to giggle and says "What more do you want me to say? There's nothing more."
Not exactly the most convincing display of sincere conversion.
All this is a reminder of something else Montaser wrote on Muslim inferiority complex: that some Muslims embrace events with "a hopeful eye, not an eye for truth or reality," and that they "are struck with blindness" when it comes to things that deflate their "hopes."
Thus, even though a few Coptic girls convert to Islam for cynical reasons—namely, temporal and monetary benefits—some Muslims are not seeing it, are "struck with blindness" vis-à-vis this unflattering reality, and instinctively put the best spin on it.
Then again, Islam offers its own cynical explanation. While it may seem incongruous for non-Muslim girls to convert to Islam for its intrinsic appeal—a religion that allows polygamy, treats females as half the worth of men, keeps them under wraps, and says they can be ridden like animals—there is no discrepancy for Islam, which holds that females are deficient in intelligence.
All these thoughts occurred to me as I listened to a recent interview with a former Al-Azhar scholar and head of the Sharia department—an adult Muslim man who converted to Christianity, someone who not only is mature and learned in religion, but who, far from gaining a temporal advantage, has everything to lose for his decision, starting with his life.
Conversion, Adultery, and Savagery Strike Egypt
by Raymond Ibrahim
The true story behind the recent Islamist attacks on Egypt's Copts—wherein over a dozen Christians were killed, hundreds wounded, and their churches torched—is as illuminating as it is sordid.
To recap, Islamists—or "Salafists," as many in the Egyptian media are referring to the "Taliban-looking guys in slippers"—demonstrated before St. Mark Cathedral, insisting that their "Muslim sister" Camelia Shehata be released by the Coptic Church, which was supposedly holding and torturing her, a Copt, for converting to Islam. So Camelia once again appeared announcing unequivocally that she never converted to Islam, and would live and die as a Christian.
Not ones to be deterred, Islamists immediately began rioting about how another Coptic girl, Abeer Talaat, had converted to Islam and was abducted and imprisoned by the Coptic Church—hence the violent rampage (which continued into the weekend, when Christians demonstrating against the attacks were attacked again, with one killed and over 100 injured).
In fact, Abeer did convert to Islam. However, her family did not know; all they knew is that their married daughter had run off with another man. They brought her to stay at a guest house belonging to the church, designed to help separated couples reconcile. According to the priest, she left the guest house well before the Islamists began insisting that she was being held "against her will" in the church.
More telling is why Abeer converted to Islam: to get an instantaneous divorce from her husband. A Muslim cabdriver she knew told her that if she converted to Islam and "married" him (i.e., lived with him), that would automatically annul her marriage from the Christian. This of course is a Sharia stipulation, though one that (currently) contradicts Egyptian law, which views her as a bigamist for marrying another man while still being legally wed (she is currently in jail under investigation).
Asked in a recent interview if she converted to Islam for its own appeal, or simply to get rid of her Coptic husband, Abeer said "No, I had a lot of problems with my husband and that's what caused me to do this [convert to Islam]. I asked 'How can I be rid of him [her husband]' and was told to 'be done of him by changing your religion' [to Islam], so I did this to be rid of him."
Asked "Do you want to stay a Muslim, Abeer?" she responded with a small "Well, it's something that there's no return from."
As we have seen, and as Abeer knows, Islam's views on conversion are dramatic: Muslims who convert out, the apostates, are to be put to death according to Sharia; non-Muslims who convert in—sincerely or not—are a source of great pride and parade.
In short, all the death and destruction recently visited upon the Copts was performed in the name of a "convert" whose only motivation for converting to Islam was to gain an advantage against her Christian husband. Even the Islamist Muhammad al-Awwa, an inciter against Copts, recently confirmed that Abeer "has no connection with Islam" and does not know the first thing about it.
Many Egyptian media commentators have rightly asked: what sort of Muslims are these who kill and destroy on behalf of an adulterous and bigamist woman—two great crimes in Islam? Apparently for some, gaining converts is more important than actually upholding Islamic principles; for others, any excuse to attack Christians and churches, even in the name of a nominal Muslim, is good enough.
Finally, this entire affair is a reminder of the continuity of Islam's supremacist history. Despite the apologetics and white-washing, anyone who has studied the historic spread of Islam knows that most of the conquered, indigenous peoples who converted to Islam throughout the centuries did so, like Abeer, for thetemporal benefits and advantages—including sloughing off dhimmi status—that come with joining the "winning team," and not for anything intrinsic. Perhaps this also explains why the Muslim world's "inferiority complex" is directly tied to the issue of conversion.