IRAQ: Divorce and conversion to Islam by wives of Coptic Egyptian priests linked to Al-Qaida’s attacks on Christians in Baghdad

CAIRO: The desire of two Egyptian Coptic priests’ wives to divorce their husbands linked to Al-Qaida violence against Christians in Iraq.

Two Coptic women in Egypt convert to Islam to obtain a legal divorce – at least they allegedly tried to – and this purportedly triggers violence against Christians by Al-Qaida in Iraq:

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 bloodiest attack ever on Christians in Iraq – a five-hour 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. [more]

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