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Mohamed Hegazy with his lawyer.
Photo: World Watch Monitor

Mohamed Hegazy battled with the Egyptian courts for nine years in order to be officially recognized as a Christian. His fight has just ended -- with his apparent decision to return to Islam. Please pray for 34-year-old Mohamed who has endured relentless persecution since trying to change the religious status of his ID card to "Christian." He announced his return to Islam in a video recently posted on YouTube.

Mohamed, who had been behind bars intermittently since December 2013, was charged with "protesting without permission" and "defamation of religion." On June 29th, the court finally ordered his release on bail but it took an additional month before he was actually freed. During the ordeal, his lawyer, Karam Ghobrial, was deliberately ensnared in red tape, and Mohamed himself was transferred between several different police stations.

In his YouTube video, Mohamed utters the Shahada, the Islamic proclamation of allegiance, and then delivers an apparently well-rehearsed statement: "I say this out of my complete free will. I am not being held by any agency, nor am I under any pressure of any kind."

Mohamed Hegazy changed his name to Bishoy Armia Boulous after he became a Christian at 16 years of age. He has been imprisoned twice, tortured and beaten repeatedly in jail; and his young family was forced to go into hiding. Previous reports on his situation, including a video clip, are available here.

Release International's CEO, Paul Robinson, states: "We must pray for Mohamed Hegazy. We do not know what he has gone through recently, added to all that he has suffered since his conversion to Christianity. God knows his heart."

Pray that Mohamed and his family will experience the God of all love and compassion, whose mercies are new every morning. May he receive inner peace and rest from the turmoil of his battered soul, as well as greatly needed healing and restoration – spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. Also intercede for his lawyer, Karam, who has paid a high price for defending his client through the ordeal. Pray that God will strengthen and protect him too. Finally, please uphold others of our extended Christian family in Egypt who are suffering great duress, that they will not be worn down by harassment and persecution but rather further strengthened and encouraged to stand firm in their faith.