The 15-year-old daughter of well-known Egyptian convert Maher el-Gohary has written a letter appealing to President Obama to help her father who is in danger of being murdered or imprisoned for becoming a Christian.
Dina el-Gohary, who also converted from Islam to Christianity, has been on the run and living in hiding with her father, who is the second Egyptian to legally request to change his religious status.
In her handwritten letter in Arabic, posted on Coptic Web sites, she writes:
“Mr. President Obama, we are a minority in Egypt. We are treated very badly. You said that the Muslim minority in America are treated very well, so why are we not treated here likewise? We are imprisoned in our own home because Muslim clerics called for the murder of my father, and now the Government has set for us a new prison, we are imprisoned in our own country," according to a translation posted by the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA).
The Egyptian girl asked President Obama to mediate with the Egyptian government on their behalf.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times earlier this year, Maher el-Gohary said he and his daughter live like “fugitives,” moving every few months.
As one of Egypt’s most well-known converts, the el-Gohary’s cannot walk freely on the streets for fear of being identified by Muslim extremists. Friends provide the family with food.
“I'm not so much afraid of the government anymore,” el-Gohary told the Times in August. “It's conservative Muslims who worry me. Some of them believe whoever kills me is rewarded. When I go to court, I'm surrounded by police protection."
El-Gohary, 57, accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior secretly 35 years ago. But in August 2008, the Muslim-born Egyptian filed a lawsuit to legally change his identification to Christian. It was the country’s second lawsuit ever related to religious status.
In June 2009, however, a Cairo judge rejected his petition even after el-Gohary provided a baptism certificate and a letter of acceptance into the Coptic Orthodox Church as the court had demanded.
Since filing the suit last year, the father and daughter have been living in hiding. Several Muslim clerics have labeled him an apostate and have issued fatwas calling for “spilling his blood,” according to AINA.
The el-Gohary family tried to leave Egypt, but was barred in September without any legal reasons.
El-Gohary has appealed the court decision regarding his religious identification. He has also said he is willing to give up his Egyptian nationality in order to leave Egypt, according to AINA.
“If the Egyptian nationality is the cause of my imprisonment within my home and being unable to move, then I do not want it,” he said. El-Gohary said he'd rather hold any other nationality than stay in Egypt where he said he and his daughter are "suffering imprisonment within the walls of my apartment and without any freedom.”
Copts United has also appealed to the U.N. Human Rights Council for help with el-Gohary’s case.