“We are deeply disappointed that the perpetrators in Mrs. Thabet’s case have been acquitted and that no one has been held accountable for this appalling attack on an elderly woman and the sectarian attacks in Ashrouba village,” Mr. Mervyn says, referring to the place where the elderly woman was attacked.
He notes that the acquittal undermines the Egyptian constitution, and lays bare the discrimination against Christians in the country.
“As well as sending an ominous message concerning gender-based violations, these incidents undermine the Egyptian constitution, the rule of law, and the personal commitment of President al Sisi to end discriminatory practices against the Christian community,” the CSW Founder President says.
He adds that from the Egyptian court’s decision, everyone in the country, as well as the international community can see that religion-related impunity remains entrenched, including in the country’s highest court.
“We urge the Egyptian government to take decisive steps to ensure women are better protected, and that victims of sectarian attacks receive justice,” the CSW official says.
The men who assaulted Mrs. Thabet, CSW says, were initially acquitted by a criminal court in December 2020, after repeated delays in Mrs. Thabet’s case. An appeal against that decision was rejected in January 2021, and this latest verdict from the Court of Appeal is final.
The elderly woman’s son was sentenced to two years in prison on charges of adultery on 27 July 2017. The sentence was reduced to one year in April 2018, and he was released on 11 October 2018.
Initial reports indicated that seven houses were completely burned down during the attack on Mrs. Thabet, but it was subsequently confirmed that five had been destroyed.
Three men were charged with disturbing public peace, inciting violence, and stripping Mrs. Thabet in public. They were each sentenced in absentia to ten years in prison by the criminal court in Beni Suef on 11 January 2020, but they appealed the verdict.
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights condemned the acquittal, stating that “acquitting the accused sends a message that encourages attacks against women.”