Two missing Coptic women Abused by Priest Husbands, What if they were Muslim?

Robert Spencer was all on this issue before, painting it in a simplified form directly taking the side of ultra right-wing Coptic apologists who hate Islam with a passion. Don’t expect any retractions from Spencer on this one.

Two missing Coptic women had been abused by priest husbands


CAIRO, Egypt • The wives of two Egyptian Coptic priests, forbidden by the church from divorcing their abusive husbands, desperately sought another way out by converting to Islam. When their intentions were discovered, police handed them over to the church, and their whereabouts since have been unknown.

The cases caused a furor at home that spilled over the borders and turned deadly when al-Qaida in Iraq cited the women as the reason behind the worst attack ever on Christians in Iraq — a siege of a church in October that left 68 people dead.

It was a stark example of the schism between Christians and Muslims that runs through the Middle East and periodically erupts into violence.

“Amid the current sectarian discord, the timing is perfect for al-Qaida to show it is defending Islam and to exploit the situation to rally extremists against the churches,” said Ammar Ali Hassan, an expert in Islamic movements.

Both Wafaa Constantine, 53, and Camilla Shehata, 25, lived in remote rural towns and enjoyed prestige as devoted and pious wives of conservative Coptic priests. But behind that veneer, a lawyer and a church official said, the women were trapped in abusive relationships.

Both tried to seek a divorce through church channels but hit a dead end because the Coptic Orthodox Church forbids divorce — a rule enforced even more strictly against the wives of priests. And they decided to rebel, not only against their husbands but against the whole religion.

They sought to convert to Islam, something viewed as a disgrace in their community. The Coptic Church considers those who convert to other religions dead, making the marriage contract invalid.

Though Egyptian religious authorities say the women never succeeded in converting, the controversy in both cases escalated with protests by Egyptian Christians, who accused Muslims of abducting the women and forcing them to convert.

That riled Muslim extremists in Egypt who protested and accused the church of holding them against their will and forcing them to convert back to Christianity.

Al-Qaida in Iraq turned it into a cause celebre when it cited the women as the reason behind the Baghdad church siege. The group followed with more threats against Iraq’s Christian minority, generating such fear that most Christmas celebrations in the country were canceled.

14 thoughts on “Two missing Coptic women Abused by Priest Husbands, What if they were Muslim?

  1. The poor women! It seems like the Coptic church has its own issues to deal with; even more-so if the women had truly changed religion.

    This situation is almost the exact mirror image of what happened in India in the early 1900’s:

    As India was controlled by the British and no actual qadis were in place, the ulama there initially decreed that there could be no Islamically-valid divorces issued. Therefore, women petitioning for divorce could not leave their husbands through the British courts, even if the husbands were abusive etc. as there was no qadi to pronounce the Islamic divorce on their behalf. The ingenious workaround to this was that they would claim they had apostatized and converted to Christianity; the marriages were then automatically annulled and they could then separate from their husbands. Of course, that was not without its own issues. The legal doctrine reflecting this was later modified by the scholars once they could see the harmful effect the original position was having on women.

  2. Why would Spencer have to “retract” anything? Two women get abused by a Copt, therefore, the many more Muslims that Spencer points out who are abusing and killing Copts are all canceled out. Great logic.

    • What’s the “logic” in Spencer’s police blottering? I mean what exactly is gathering all the info on the crime and violence that various Muslims perpetrate around the world supposed to demonstrate exactly? That some Muslims commit crimes and engage in acts of violence? If so, then so what? How does that even mean in anything in the larger scope of global crime and violence in general?

      Seriously, if you have a predominantly Muslim country, then doesn’t it stand to reason that it’s criminals would be predominantly Muslim as well? And wow, most of these reports are coming from predominantly Muslim countries. I guess that explains that, doesn’t it?

      • When Muslims are committing these crimes in congruence with the Qur’an, and using it to justify their crimes, it supports Spencer’s argument that there are extremist elements inherent in Islam that are causing all of these problems.

        • Where’s the evidence that the criminal activity of Muslims is being done “in congruence with the Qur’an”? Spencer’s sensationalist narrative and misuse of Qur’anic verses doesn’t count.

        • Exactly how is terrorism in congruence with Islam? Islam prohibits the killing of civilians, among other things.

          I don’t think you, Anhi, of all people, have the ability to know what is and isn’t “Islamic”. As has been shown before, you can’t tell the difference between the real Qur’an and Hadith from fabricated verses you find on some random hate site (can’t tell the difference between the Qur’an and Hadith for that matter).

        • There are extremists in every religion. There are even extremist Buddhists. But we can’t define the whole religion or group by the actions of the extremists.

          No one here is denying the existence of Islamic extremists. We condemn them and we also condemn those who elevate this minority of extremits as the true representatives of the faith.

    • Ahni,

      “Scholar” Spencer needs to retract the story where he blamed Mooslims for abducting these Coptic women because it is incorrect. He leaves the stories there even though they are wrong because he knows his idiotic readers won’t notice.

  3. What I don’t get it is how and where Al-Qaeda’s Islamic authenticity is being verified?? It could be (and most probably is) run by Mossad, since its highest casualties are first Muslim and then Christian. Something is very wrong with this picture and whats more wrong is this stupid logic thrown in our faces and blindly accepted by us that Muslims are killing Muslims for Muslim world domination.

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