Three Egyptian Muslim men charged with stripping and beating a Coptic Christian grandmother in the street because her Christian son courted a Muslim woman, were acquitted by a Cairo court on Jan. 9. Now, the woman, 76-year-old Soad Thabet, may face litigation to compensate the men who reportedly attacked her.
Thabet was 70 years old when the attack occurred.
As reported by Raymond Ibrahim at the Gatestone Institute and numerous civil rights organizations, on May 20, 2016, in the village of al-Karm, a large crowd of Muslim men "descended on the Christian woman's home, stripped her naked, and then beat, spat on, and dragged her through the streets by the hair — to jeers, whistles, and triumphant shouts of 'Allahu Akbar.'"
Her son, Ashraf Thabet, allegedly had engaged in a romantic affair with Nagwa Ragab Fouad, a Muslim woman. Under sharia law, non-Muslim men are not supposed to court or marry Muslim women. When rumors of the affair surfaced, Ashraf fled the village.
As a consequence, a Muslim mob went after Soad Thatbet and her husband. As reported by MadaMasr.com, "The houses of a number of Coptic residents were looted and burned and [Soad] Thabet was stripped naked and dragged through the streets of the village after her son fled, according to a statement from the Diocese of Minya and Abu Qurqas at the time."
At some point in the assult, Thabet, who had crawled under a wagon, was helped by a woman who gave her some clothing. Thabet eventually escaped. She was reluctant to press charges but did so four days later.
"I tried to hide and suppress what occurred, but I could only take the feelings of humiliation and oppression for four days, at which point I decided to return to the local police station and testify about what happened to me before those who had refused to hear me," said the woman.
The case went to court and became so sensational that Egypt's president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, met with Thabet and promised she would receive justice. Since 2016, the case has gone back and forth between several courts. The decision on Jan 9, 2023 was by the Court of Cassation, the highest appeals court in Egypt. It upheld a previous acquittal of the three accused men.
"All during these years, Thabet and her family received threats and had to relocate from their village, even as the three guilty Muslim men walked freely, heads held high," reported the Gatestone Institute.
According to Adel Guindy, co-founder and first president of Coptic Solidarity, "The judiciary system maintained the appearances but was void of true justice. Right from the beginning of the case in 2016, the police and prosecution colluded in mishandling the investigation to avoid presenting any reliable or specific evidence against the accused."
"In fact, the witnesses who initially supported the victim were later 'convinced' to alter their testimony and claim in front of the court that, after all, they were not really sure who assaulted the old woman," said Guindy. "Acting upon technicalities, the courts -- all the way to the top [Cassation] Court — simply absolved the defendants and never challenged the investigative authorities. In the end, the final ruling ultimately exposes Egypt's injustice."
In addition to Thabet's case, Raymond Ibrahim reported that in 2013 "rioting Muslims 'burned down a Christian school, paraded three nuns on the streets like 'prisoners of war,' and sexually abused two other female staff even as at least 58 attacks on Christians and their property were reported across Egypt over the last four days. At least two Christians have died in the attacks."
In another case, in Pakistan, a pregnant Christian woman was stripped, beaten, and forced to march naked in her village. Two Muslim men allegedly committed the crime.
As reported by Christian Today, Elishba Bibi, 28, "suffered a miscarriage after she was stripped naked and beaten following an argument with her Muslim superiors. This occurred in Sheikhupura, the same district that Asia Bibi, the woman sentenced to death for blasphemy for allegedly insulting the prophet Mohammed, comes from."