11/02/2010, 00.00
IRAQ-EGYPT
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Cairo rejects Al Qaeda ultimatum and denies "conversion" of the two women

Egypt has rejected the request of the alleged terrorists who demand the "release" of two Muslim women, who according to Al Qaeda are being forcibly held in monasteries in the country.

Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - "We categorically reject that our name be linked to such criminal acts," reads a note from the Foreign Ministry in Cairo, which "strongly condemns" the attack. The Iraqi cell of al Qaeda, responsible for the attack on the Syrian Catholic church in Baghdad that resulted in a raid by Iraqi forces which killed more than 50 people, gave Cairo an ultimatum of 48 hours.

The two Coptic women called into question in the attack on the Syrian Catholic church in Baghdad, have sought refuge in some convents or communities because of '''the strong social pressure that they suffered'. These the words relayed over the phone by Samia Sidhom, Cairo editor of the El Watani, the Egyptian Copts historic weekly magazine based in New York. ''They had left their homes because of family disagreements - says Samia Sidhom to ANSAmed - but there was no conversion to Islam, as confirmed by the highest Muslim religious authorities”, as confirmed by the Sunni authorities of Al Azhar, the journalist states. In reality 'both (one of them, Wafa Constantine, already widow at the time of her disappearance in 2004) wanted to return to a normal life, explains Samia Sidhom, ''but there was too much pressure on them'' and therefore they were forced to seek refuge in two different places” (monasteries and community). Sidhom adds that she herself is unaware of their exact whereabouts. But both have been ''victims of exploitation”, she adds, in the demonstrations that followed the spread of news of their conversion, as well as by those terrorists who claimed responsibility for the attack in Iraq.

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