Sana'a, April 1, 2014
A formerly Muslim woman who embraced Christianity has been sentenced by the Yemeni court to compulsory confinement and medication in the psychiatric hospital of the town of Al Hadidah, reports the Salam1 information portal.
According to the press, the 30-year-old lawyer, Fatima Mohammad As-Salem decided to abandon Islam after the slaughter committed by Al Qaeda in the capital's "Al Ardi" hospital, leaving about 200 victims. However, following the dissemination by the television and papers of the "sensation", Yemeni top brass, by the default judgment of the court, arrested Fatima in the town of Bajil and sent her for legal-psychiatric examination to the town of Al Hadidah, situated in the south-west of Yemen.
Several days later, specialists of the "Dar as-Salam" psychiatric hospital gave an interview with the Al Ra'i Kuwaiti newspaper, in which they described "the accused" as "a woman, suffering from megalomania, developed under the influence of her second divorce and coverage of information on certain criminal events".
According to the doctors, these conclusions are indicated in the order defined by law, and respective indictments have already been submitted to the public prosecutor's office. "The accused woman is staying here where she is receiving psychological support and is under medication," they said.
All this has provoked a storm of reaction among human rights activists, who have called this situation "a triumph of ignorance" and a direct violation of the right of freedom to change one's belief.
Thus, Noor Azaziy, chairman of the Yemeni Civil Rights Center, noted: "Freedom of religion is a fundamental constitutional principle, supported by international settlements. However, the Yemeni traditions, which do not recognize the human right of self-determination—including religious rights, still prevail over the law".
According to unofficial data, during the interrogations Fatima more than once tried to explain to the investigators the true motives of her choice: "By no means do I want to say that Islam is bad, evil, or awful. In recent times it has simply attracted people who use it as a shield to protect their aims. These people consider themselves to be substitutes of God on the Earth, murdering millions of innocent people, casting a shadow over the religion itself," stated As-Salem. Nevertheless, the woman is still imprisoned.
At the same time, the Yemeni periodicals have begun spreading improbable speculation in support of the authorities' decision: specifically, some editions said that the lady had been in contact with "genies, who had appeared to her and suggested her to accept Christianity." In the human rights activists' view, the situation surrounding Fatima's legal case is being deliberately aggravated "from above" in order to form the public opinion on this case completely.