Eight members of an Egyptian family who converted to Christianity have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms after allegedly illegally changing the names on official identity documents.
RT reports that Nadia Mohamed Ali and seven of her children were handed 15 year prison sentences for converting to Christianity. Apostasy-- renouncing Islam-- is a crime under Sharia law.
Mohamed was born Christian but converted to Islam when she married. Her husband died in 1991, after which time Mohamed chose to convert back to Christianity. She convinced her children to do likewise.
The family is also being punished for illegally changing their names on official documents.
In 2004 the family members changed the Muslim names on their official identity documents to Christian ones. They also moved to the city of Beni Suef, 75 miles (120km) south of Cairo.
Two years later, one of Mohamed's sons was arrested on suspicion that his identity documents had been forged. The boy subsequently confessed to converting to Christianity and told authorities that he'd done so at the urging of his mother.
The clerks responsible for the illegal document alterations were sentenced to 5 year prison terms.
Egyptian Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the nation's population of 82 million, face widespread discrimination and hostility, especially since the ascension of the Muslim Brotherhood-run government of Mohamed Morsi as a result of the Arab Spring revolution that toppled longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak. Mulsim mobs regularly attack Christian churches, and dozens were killed and hundreds more wounded when Egyptian troops fired on Christians protesting such attacks in October 2011.