Convert from Islam in Sudan loses wife, children
A year ago Mohammed Khidir Khalil was glad his family had obtained refugee status in Egypt after fleeing Islamic hostilities in Sudan. The 38-year-old Christian was also heartened that his formerly unbelieving wife was attending church with him.
Today the convert from Islam is back in Sudan fighting to recover his family after his in-laws compelled his wife to claim she was Muslim and divorce him. A Sudanese court automatically granted her custody of their two sons and forbade him to see them, he said. He fears that if he persists in his legal battle, he faces the threat of being accused of "apostasy,” or leaving Islam.
It was last August that his Muslim mother-in-law visited them in Egypt.
"Without my knowledge, she took my wife and children back to Sudan,” Khalil said.
The couple had fled Sudan just before the South Sudan vote for independence on Jan. 9, 2011, after threats from the couples’ Muslim families and others intensified, Khalil said. In Egypt, they reported their case to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and won asylum.
In emails to friends back in Sudan, Khalil freely shared his Christian experience and pointed out what he termed as contradictions in Islam.
Hearing nothing from his family after his mother-in-law took his wife and two sons back to Sudan, on Christmas Day Khalil decided to return to an undisclosed town in Sudan to search for them. He was shocked to discover that his wife, Manal Hassan, had filed for divorce on grounds that she was a Muslim and he a Christian.
Khalil, who converted to Christianity in 2001, had met Hassan in 2007. At that time she said she was neither a Christian nor a Muslim, and they married in a non-religious wedding. The bride’s Muslim family learned that Khalil was a Christian but had no objection to the marriage, he said. (...)