When Divorce Is Unattainable, Murder May Be the Answer

By: Alexandra Kinias

Caption: Irene and Rizk’s wedding.

I often question divine laws when lives are wasted in their names. These Holy Scriptures that are still rigorously practiced  were certainly useful 2000 years ago. But in today’s time and age when they contribute to man’s misery, their credibility should be questioned. It is no longer a matter of faith, but a human right. We should not just watch when a life of a young woman violently ends because the church refuses to grant her a divorce. We should stop and think, evaluate and object.

Another beautiful life was wasted when Irene’s body was found in a hotel room in Alexandria – Egypt, in a pool of blood. She was brutally murdered by her husband who reported her death one day later from the airport as he was boarding the plane to the United States where he lives and works. Rizk Kondos, the 38 years old Egyptian American, planned his crime on the basis that there is no extraditing agreement between the USA and Egypt. In the phone call he made to the hotel to report his wife’s murder, he joyfully announced that he was a widow and sent his best regards to the Egyptian laws that don’t  grants Copts a divorce.

Irene’s body was found in a pool of blood. Her body was battered; she was severely beaten and her neck broken. The death was caused by a severe blow to the head with a heavy object. The victim’s hair was cut and thrown all over the room.

The couple was married in November 2008 and they left shortly after the wedding to America where Rizk lived and worked.

Irene returned back to Egypt and complained to her family that her husband was violently attacking her and raping her. Last April, a month after he was nationalized as an American citizen, Rizk followed her to Egypt. Irene refused to go back with him and the fighting escalated. But since divorce was not an option, as the Coptic Orthodox church does not allow her followers to divorce, the priest who wed them intervened and they reconciled with the priest’s personal guarantee that Rizk will not mistreat her again. To celebrate the return, Rizk booked a hotel room for three days, but murdered her soon after they checked in. From America sent his in-laws a letter rejoicing his freedom.

Irene’s life was wasted because she trusted the priest who promised her safety and peace, but he betrayed her. He betrayed her by making her believe that he knew what’s best for her, without even walking in her shoes. We gave the religious scholars the right to control us by believing that they know what’s best for us. It is about time to strip them this right when their decisions are not in our favor.

Our needs and expectations have evolved so why laws that govern a major part of our lives should remain stagnant? Laws that were issued 2000 years ago were needed then, but their values are not necessarily valid for today.

Religion came with the message to spread fairness, justice, love, freedom and equality. But in Irene’s case, none of the above describes how she lived and why she died. When she walked down the isle and exchanged her wedding vows with Rizk, she was simply signing her death certificate.

To read Irene’s story in Arabic click here



Filed under Violence against women

6 responses to “When Divorce Is Unattainable, Murder May Be the Answer

  1. Riham

    Hi Alexandra,
    I agree with you about the blind confidence in religious scholars and the way they are controlling people’s life in the middle east, they interfere in everything.
    the problem is not allowing civil marriage and force people to follow the religious rules. the funny thing in Lebanon is that the government recognize civil marriage but doesn’t allow it in the country so people who wants to get a civil marriage go to Cyprus , you can find the ads of tourist companies for civil marriage trips everywhere.
    but for Rizk I don’t think he killed his wife because he can’t get a divorce. He’s living in US he could get a civil divorce and a civil marriage , I think he’s just a violent person who took advantage of the circumstances , the way he killed his wife shows that he enjoyed what he was doing.

  2. Hello Riham,

    Thanks for reading the article and commenting on it. It is really interesting what you mentioned about the Lebanese government recognizing the civil marriage, but not allowing it. Who are they fooling if couples still go to Cyprus and get married there. I believe that some governments prefer to ignore certain issues than dealing with them.

    Regarding Rizk, I absolutely agree with you. I can see the madness in his eyes, but unfortunately Irene had to pay with her life because of it. If she had gone with him to America and applied for a divorce based on domestic violence. He would have not only been thrown in jail, but would also lose more than half of his assets. Killing her was much cheaper. So sad.

  3. hi Alex. , very good article with true sad story about what is going on in real life away from churches , priest & too much talk about authority and who should rule people.
    it must be a law away from the Qura’an and Bible and any other book people consider sacred and above the law. ( for ex. Muslims brotherhood want to change the constitution & law in Egypt to fit the Islamic sharia ) !!
    this law must be depend on the well known of people needs , time changes and challenges , and new shape of troubles people face in families ..etc .
    am say and will always say that religion NORMAL place is inside mosques and churches never let it out to ruin people’s lives.to have good , strong community , to find rights and equality , respect in streets we need a firm , respected and effective law every body should follow & respect .
    now what , a Christian girl pay her life for not being able to get divorced and many other hundred of families live in hell every day because no divorce , on the other side thousands of Muslims families live in hell too because man can get married up to 4 times or because the woman get divorced each time her husband gets angry !!then she must treat her husband like Mr. king of the universe or Mr. sunshine and live like a life time servant , there is many sides we can see that there is no justice to let books ( yes , sure come from heaven and from God 😀 ) control our lives now , so let the books inside the mosques or church , and let us have a brand new life law’s , am sure god will never be sad to see us happy . 🙂

    • Hello Kontiki,

      Thanks for reading the article and sharing your thoughts. I agree that religious institutions, whatever they are, should concentrate on making people happy because sadly enough it seems that women always pay the price.

  4. Dalia Khamis

    added to all comments it is sad also that since Risk is living in peace in the states, he could nt be put in jail ,hard to say it is a well planned crime

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