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.