Death in the South Sinai


tags: Homicide ,

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By Wayne Budgen

From the December 2015 issue of the APJ.

The author met Xochi Mace while they were both studying theology at St Francis’ Theological College in Brisbane. For personal reasons, Xochi decided to leave the college and, in time, determined that she wanted to convert to the Islamic faith.

She had always maintained that her faith in God was of paramount importance to her life and that even though she had been disillusioned with the Christian church she had a strong spirituality.[1] This spirituality in conjunction with her high level of intelligence led her to look for another faith system, and she was ultimately drawn to Islam. It is not the author’s intention to write about the arguments for and against Islam, suffice to say that numerous aspects of this monotheistic, Abrahamic religion appealed to Xochi in her quest for spiritual comfort.

In furtherance of her adapting her hitherto Western lifestyle to an Islamic one, Xochi adopted many of the aspects of Islam that present themselves to the external viewer. These included multiple prayer times each day, restrictions in her diet, and a daily study of the Koran.[2] It also became important to her to convert formally to Islam. She did this in February 2012 at a mosque in Cairo during a lengthy vacation throughout Egypt. Of particular note was that the Egyptian Revolution to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak was in full swing at that time and the country was in turmoil. It became obvious that the majority of trouble was focused in and around Tahrir Square, so avoiding that area tended to ensure her relative safety in Cairo.[3] However, travelling as a single, Caucasian women in the Middle East can be perilous, even in a moderate Islamic country such as Egypt, and Xochi told the author of numerous instances where she was accosted in public places by groups of Egyptian men. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated occurrence as a history of sexual assaults against women during protests in Egypt has been well documented.[4] Women of all ethnicities have been targeted in these attacks. Ironically, it was her rescuer from one such attack, Mahmoud Abdul Adheem Al Sayd (Sorour), who was to become her husband and ultimately her killer ...

[1]X.K. Mace, ‘God in My Life’, Christian Life Essay, St. Francis Theological College, 2008.

[2] WGBH Educational Foundation, ‘Belief and Daily Lives of Muslims’, 2014, (accessed 20 May 2015).

[3] British Broadcasting Corporation, ‘Egypt’s Tahrir Square protesters tell their stories’,, 2012, (accessed 20 May 2015).

[4] Human Rights Watch, ‘Egypt: Epidemic of Sexual Violence’,, 2013, (accessed 20 April 2015).

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