Gaza (MNN) — A female Christian university professor was converted to Islam by force last week, according to officials from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization and the woman's family.
Hamas denies the claim, saying that Fatah is spreading lies. However, the woman, Sana al-Sayegh, called her parents five days after she went missing. She reported that she was being held against her will so she could be married to a Muslim man, who also is a professor at the university.
Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs says, "It is extremely difficult now for her to come back and say ‘Wait a minute! I'm not a Muslim, I'm a Christian.' Because of the signed documents, even if they were signed under duress, in the minds of the Muslim populous, she is a Muslim." Reconverting to Christianity is apostasy–a crime worthy of execution in the Muslim mind.
Her family says Sayegh would never convert to Islam by choice. A few days after the phone call, they received a copy of the conversion documents which had been signed by two witnesses, one of which is the president of the University where Sayegh teaches.
Since Hamas claims Sayegh converted willfully, it is hard to say what kind of help the government will offer. "In the government's mind then, ‘OK, she changed her faith. That's fine.' So it's hard to know how the government will play this–what type of a
role they will take. I assume that there will not be penalties."
Sayegh is head of the Science and Technology Department and the only female doctorate in her field. "The thought that a Christian woman would be in such a position would probably cause bad feelings among certain Islamic militants in that area," said Nettleton.
Sayegh's family and Christian leaders attempted a meeting with the former prime minister of Hamas, but they were denied.
While Sayegh came to work last Tuesday, she has yet to reach her family. Sources say she has probably been threatened against contacting her family. According to sources close to
Sayegh's family, a Hamas representative was sent to her parents household to tell them that Sayegh did not want to associate with them unless they converted to Islam.