UPDATE (17 Feb, 2017)
The case against three men accused of publicly stripping naked a 70-year-old woman has been reopened.
A month ago today (17 January), charges were dropped against the three men over a reported lack of evidence, despite a public apology from the President and the woman, Soad Thabet, identifying the three men.
After the charges were dropped, Mrs Thabet told The Telegraph she felt “let down for a second time”.
However, the case against the three men has now been reopened, following an appeal by Mrs Thabet’s legal team, who claimed that witnesses had gone back on their original testimonies after being threatened.
Writer and journalist Soliman Shafiq told the Coptic newspaper Watani that the case “perfectly mirrored the bitter struggle between the tribal fundamentalist forces in rural Egypt and the liberal civic forces” and called the decision to reopen the case a “victory” for civic forces.
UPDATE (17 Jan, 2017)
Charges dropped against men who stripped elderly Coptic woman in public
Egyptian authorities have dropped the charges against three men accused of publicly stripping naked a 70-year-old woman, following rumours her son had had an affair with a Muslim woman.
The authorities cited a “lack of evidence”, despite a public apology from the President and the woman, Soad Thabet, identifying the three men.
World Watch Monitor published witness accounts of the attack, which took place in June. An Egyptian bishop, Makarius of Minya (300km south of Cairo), called for “justice”, rejecting the practice of extrajudicial "conciliation meetings" that have long pressured Copts to give up legal rights. For a woman from an especially conservative rural culture, the trauma was particularly severe, and the attack hit global headlines.
“I feel let down for a second time,” Mrs Thabet told The Telegraph. “I feel that nobody is standing by our side.”
“I was hoping that they will be punished. The people who comfort me say that Jesus was himself stripped naked. Now, I complain only to God, and hope he brings justice. Is there anyone stronger than God?”
Meanwhile, Thabet’s son, Ashraf, who faces charges of adultery with Nagwa Ragab Fouad, is due in court later this month. Mrs Fouad, estranged wife of the man accused of whipping up the village against Thabet’s family, has denied – on national TV – any sexual relationship with the Christian.
Ashraf Thabet said: “If the law stands by the side of the culprits and the victim becomes culprit, then nothing will stop [them] from attacking us in the future.”
Original article (3 June 2016)
Bishop pleads for justice as attack on Copt grandmother ‘stripped naked’ stirs Egypt
A Coptic bishop has urged full recourse to law to punish those behind an attack in Minya, Upper Egypt, which saw the 70-year-old mother of a man rumoured to have had an affair with a Muslim woman stripped naked in public view.
She and another Coptic woman were at the very least injured, while five homes were also burned when angry villagers ran amok after the rumoured affair between Ashraf Attiya, a 31-year-old Coptic trader, and a married Muslim woman, Nagwa Ragab Fouad.
Fouad, already estranged from her husband, Nazir Ahmed, strongly denies the alleged affair, insisting Ahmed spread the rumour to be able to get a free divorce, denying her her legal rights.
Bishop Makarius of Minya (300km south of Cairo) this week reiterated his call to bring the attackers to justice, rejecting the practice of extrajudicial "conciliation meetings" that have long pressured Copts to give up legal rights.
"The law should take its course until the perpetrators are brought to justice," said Makarius of the attack in the village of al-Karam on Friday 20 May.
"Such issues have to be tackled head on. The root causes have to be exposed."
‘I was completely stripped’
Threats against Copts, including the Attiya household, became apparent from 18 May. When the priest of a nearby village raised the issue with the authorities, he was given false assurances.
Soad Thabet, the alleged lover’s 70-year-old mother, told a local TV chat show: "On Friday [20 May], sometime in the evening, our home was stormed. They beat my husband severely. When I started screaming, they dragged me out into the street.
I wish they had only beaten me, but not stripped me entirely naked as they did
"They repeatedly beat me and stripped me of all my clothes. They left me as naked as the day I was born.
"They were heavily armed, no-one dared approach me to help."
Thabet and her husband were forced to leave the village, home to around 1,000 Christians among 30,000 Muslims, a place without a single church to serve the community.
Faced with specific threats, her son, Ashraf, had a week earlier fled the village, together with his wife and four daughters.
For a woman from an especially conservative rural culture, the trauma was particularly severe.
"I wish they had only beaten me, no matter how hard, but not stripped me entirely naked as they did," said Thabet on TV.
A worse fate was averted by a Muslim neighbour’s act of courage.
Ramadan Kamal, living across from the Attiyas, risked his safety to take her into his home.