The Strange — and Tragic — Case of Nagla Imam

Raymond Ibrahim
Pajamas Media

Uncovering the truth is always a convoluted affair when it comes to the Middle East. Consider the case of the Egyptian Nagla Iman. Is she a Muslim woman who advocates the sexual harassment of Jewish women, or a Christian woman, who advocates human rights — especially for fellow women of all faiths?

The story begins last June 24, when I was a guest on I Was a Prisoner, which airs weekly on the Arabic satellite station Tarek TV (“Way TV”). Named after its host, Nabil Bissada, who was imprisoned and tortured in Egypt for facilitating the way for Muslims to convert to Christianity, I Was a Prisoner explores the lack of human rights in Muslim countries.

Prior to the show, I was told a well-known Egyptian lawyer was scheduled to call in and discuss how the Egyptian government was harassing her for converting. Nagla called in and expressed her situation as follows:

After being a prominent lawyer for years, she was fired for converting to Christianity; nor would the government, as usual, allow her formally to change her religion from Muslim to Christian on her I.D. card. As a result, she tried to organize a public demonstration against the government, with other Muslim converts to Christianity. The demonstration was quickly dispersed by the police, the demonstrators beaten and threatened; and the Muslim mob got in on the action. The young daughter of one Christian convert who broke her arm was denied medical attention.

After the show, I decided to google Nagla Imam’s name, and it was then that I discovered the strange remarks attributed to her. The contradiction was stunning: I contacted Nabil, who said he would investigate the matter.

On 7 July 2010, Nabil contacted me by phone on the Nagla case. According to him, here are where things stand…

…a top Muslim cleric, Salim Abdul Galil, appeared on an Al Azhar affiliated station proclaiming Nagla an “infidel,” adding she must either return to Islam or spend the remainder of her life indoors.

It should be observed that such a verdict accords perfectly not only with Islamic law in general, which is Egypt’s “primal source of legislation,” but the Hanafi school in particular, which is dominant in Egypt: rather than kill apostate women outright, the “lenient” Hanafis recommend that women be beaten (the government official took care of that) and then imprisoned in their homes (the Muslim cleric has seen to that) until they see the “error of their ways” and return to Islam…

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