Published September 08, 2010
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt – ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (AP) — When Irini Ibrahim, a young Coptic Christian woman, floated the idea of divorce from a husband she said was abusing her, her parents immediately opposed it, reminding her of the Biblical vow, "What God has joined together let no man put asunder."
So the 25-year-old Ibrahim entered "reconciliation sessions" with her husband Rizk Kands, moderated by a priest. In April, the priest anointed Ibrahim and Kands with sacred oil, pronouncing their union healed.
Hours later, Ibrahim's battered body was found in an Alexandria hotel room the couple had booked for a sort of second honeymoon. Kands, an Egyptian who also holds U.S. citizenship, fled to the United States, charged by an Alexandria prosecutor of strangling his wife after slamming her against the wall and toilet. Kands' trial opens Sept. 21. He will be tried in absentia.
The case sparked shock and grief among Egypt's Coptic Christians. But it did not bring much soul-searching over the Coptic Orthodox Church's almost total ban on divorce. The ban makes divorce such a taboo among Christians that no matter how bad or unbearable the marriage, ending it is unthinkable in the face of the social shame.