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Monday, July 26, 2010

Nagla Al-Imam's Statement

This is a translation of a statement from Nagla al-Imam after she was detained and beaten by Egyptian  security personnel. It documents her detention and bashing by an official referred to as Basha 'Sir'.
This is based on a video broadcast on Al-Tarek TV, posted to YouTube on July 8, 2010.
We have not received news about what has happened to Nagla since her more recent disappearance.

I was standing peacefully in front of the Cathedral. I was with my children. We were carrying the cross and a coffin. 
This is our right! It is our right to believe either in the cross, in Christ, in salvation, or to believe in the death sentence. We are apostates. According to the law in this country, we are apostates. We are prepared to serve the punishment for apostasy. We have no problem with this. But the real problem is that for almost a year, I have been under house arrest inside my house, jailed inside my own house. There is no difference: [going from] one cell to another will make no difference. Also they aborted all my attempts to speak out or to speak about Christ. They aborted our rights to become Christians. They threatened us; they accused us;  they degraded us; and they did with us whatever they were able to. But was that all? [No] They have accused us with doubts and suspicions for which no one has made them accountable.
I parked my car in front of the Cathedral. They told me “We need you for few seconds.” I thought they were from the church. I was holding my children’s hands when two men called my name. I thought they were  from the church. They told me, “We want you for few moments, just a small stroll, you will be talking with Sir [Basha].” 
I anticipated what was going to happen. One of our brothers [a fellow Christian] was there and he saw what happened.  I told him to take the children to our church.  
I want to draw your attention to something. The state security offices, the place where they interrogate people, is in Madinat Nasr. It is a big building, newly built, and specializes in such matters in particular. I know this because I am a lawyer. 
After waiting for four hours in an office, I asked, “What is the name of the colonel?” They said, “You will know in a moment.” I was anticipating everything which might happen. For four hours I waited in the office. I experienced worries, fear, anticipation, waiting and many other things. 
Then 'Sir' came. He said, “Yes my lady, why are you making trouble for us? Don’t you want to be safe?” I said, “It is you who do not want to be safe. You have restrained me from traveling, and I am a Human Rights activist.” He said, “Yes.” Then he went to take hold of the cross [on a chain around Nagla's neck] and asked, “Who is this?”
This time my words were harsh. I told him, “Take your hands off the cross, for you don’t know its worth.” He said, “No, I know its worth.” He held the chain and tightened it around my neck. He was showing that he was threatening to cut the chain, or to hurt my neck, or do anything. 
Then I answered him. I said, “If you touch me, I will react severely. If you are a real man, hit me.” He did not give me a chance to complete the sentence. Holding my hair, he bashed my face against the desk. He slapped my face more than once, and punched me in the ribs, and on my arm. By this time I was bleeding from the side of my mouth. 
I told him, “Proceed with your documentation, if you have any.” He said, “I don’t have any documentation. I am just telling you this.  This is just having fun. If you don't want to be safe, you will receive what you have not expected.” 
I said, “What is it that I could not expect? Will you put me in jail? So many other converts are in jail. You will kill me? So many converts has been killed.” I told him I was not afraid; “I am not afraid because I know where I will be going, but what about you, who do not know where will you be going.” [Here Nagla refers to a difference between Christian and Muslim beliefs: Christians have assurance of salvation, while Muslims are not sure of their eternal destiny. Cf Sura 4:9, where Muhammad says 'I do not know what will happen to me or to you.'] He was provoked and told me, “I am not going to hit you any more, all that I am going to do is that I will give way to some women. [The word "women" used here is a derogatory term for women in Arabic. This could refer to men with no manners, women hired to do the wrong thing, such as torturers, to female prison guards, or to female prisoners.] “You are a lady lawyer and you know very well what they can do to you. Do not leave your house! Until you go out on a trolley to your grave.”
When I went back [home] I couldn’t sleep. My ribs and my body were hurting, my neck and my shoulders... But my real hurt was not the [physical] pain.  My real hurt was that there was no real reason for them to do this.  I was simply a piece of flesh, an object of defamation and slander. I was always damaged goods [lit. ‘stained’]
There is no safety — human safety, worldly safety, — apart from the true safety I found with the Lord Jesus Christ.  [I am] without work; threatened to be deregistered; without an income; without family.  I have no one but enemies. Except that I do not regard them as enemies, but as agents of the evil one [Satan]
I felt this was God’s discipline: He was teaching me what it means to be humble; what it means that the Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace; what it means to focus my sight on Christ alone, and not to depend on human hands.  I have learned a lot this year.
The next day I did a medical report. I am not ready to forsake my rights.  I am keeping the name of this colonel for my self. I am an Egyptian citizen, like the apostle Paul who said “I am a Roman citizen.” I am an Egyptian citizen, and it is my right to follow the religion of my choice. I am a rational adult. I have harmed no one. This religion [Christianity] does not seek to promote terrorism and killing. On the contrary, it is the religion of peace and love.

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