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Monday, August 2, 2010

Nowhere to Hide: A Muslim Woman's Story

CBN News

The case of Christian convert Rifqa Bary captured the attention of America over the past year.

The teenager ran away from home in fear that her Muslim parents would harm her for deciding to leave Islam -- something many other converts say they have experienced.

Amani Mustafa is a former Muslim who fled oppression in Egypt only to experience further abuse in America, where she thought she would be safe.

"The first thing I said, 'this cannot happen here. This is the land of freedom. They cannot reach me here,'" Mustafa recalled.  "I couldn't believe it."

For more than 10 years, Mustafa and her two children were on the run in the United States hiding from her ex-husband and his brother. She says both had threatened to kill her if she did not return to Egypt and to Islam.

A Father's Wrath

Mustafa became a Christian after reading the Bible in secret in the bathroom. When her father learned she had left Islam, he summoned her to his home.

"He said, 'I have a straightforward question for you. Is it Islam or is it Christ?' As I was about melting, I answered, 'It is Christ' and at this point he got up to hit me," explained Amani. "He was very threatening and said he was going to tie me to his car and make me an example in the city."

Mustafa fled and was in hiding for several years. She later married a Muslim who promised she could practice her Christian faith in secret. But his attitude changed after their second child was born. Mustafa was no longer allowed to attend church. She had to wear a veil.

Forced to Read the Koran to Her Children

Still a Christian in her heart, Mustafa tearfully explained how she struggled when her husband forced her to read the Koran, the Islamic holy book, to their children.

"I felt like I'm feeding my children poison and that was the hardest thing to know the truth and not be able to speak it," she told CBN News.

Mustafa's husband agreed to send her and the children to live in the United States. He vowed to join them later.

She says she felt a sudden sense of freedom and relief when the plane left Egyptian airspace.

"The first thing that went was my veil," she recalled. "That terrified my son as he looked at me and he said, 'Mom you're going to go to hell' and I said, 'Son, we just left it.'"

On U.S. Soil, Persecution Continued

Once in America, Mustafa recommitted herself to Christ. That's when the persecution returned. When she told her husband that she was filing for divorce. He demanded the children be brought back to Egypt and Islam. He told her she would "pay a price" for her decision.

"He sent his brother after us," she told CBN News. "His brother threatened me and said if I wouldn't comply and go back with him with the kids that I will pay the price and I will go by force. And when I said, 'No I'm not going to come,' my phone in the apartment that I lived in was tapped. They were listening to our conversations for myself and for my family, my mom also. There were people doing surveillance on us. I didn't know that this could even happen," she explained.

Mustafa and her children fled to another state where her husband could not find them. Today -- more than 10 years later -- the threats have disappeared. She's no longer in hiding. Mustafa has moved forward publicly with her life.

Reaching Out to Women Facing Islamic Oppression

She feels called to serve in various ministries, reaching out to women facing Islamic oppression. She is the host of a new woman's television show that is broadcast throughout the Middle East. Mustafa and her co-hosts -- all former Muslims -- talk about their experiences with Islam.

"There are so many women living under Muslim husbands or Muslim fathers or Muslim families that are living the same things that I lived back then," she said. "There are so many women that need to know and hear about the freedom of Christ that I experience today. Those tears are not tears of pain, but actually they are tears of appreciation, because now I know that I am saved though the grace of Christ."

Mustafa feels privileged to share her joy on television and she is proud of her children. Her son, Joshua, has become an ordained pastor. Her oldest daughter is also in ministry.

Mustafa now enjoys a loving marriage with her American Christian husband and their daughter, Mary.

"I am convinced that every experience that I lived through in my life was to be for His glory, to be used for His glory," she exclaimed. "You see, we have a choice. Either we sit and mope over spilled milk, or we can just use the hardship and the bad experiences for His glory and I choose to glorify God's name."

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