militants kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam a female Christian professor in the Gaza Strip, according to the professor's family and officials from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization.
Hamas members denied the accusations, accusing rival Fatah of spreading lies even though the professor, Sana al-Sayegh of Gaza City's Palestine International University, has indicated she was converted against her will.
Sayegh, head of the University's Science and Technology Department, disappeared June 24, failing to show up at work where she serves as the Gaza Strip's only female doctorate in her field.
After a few days, co-workers and Sayegh's parents informed Gaza security officials of the professor's disappearance.
According to sources close to her family, about five days after she disappeared Sayegh caller her parents to say she was being held against her will in order to marry a Muslim man, who was also a professor at the University.
Sayegh's family declined to speak to WND directly, explaining interviews about the matter could endanger the professor.
"Sayegh said she couldn't talk. It was very clear she had been abducted and was made to do things she didn't want to do," said a source.
A few days later, the family said they received a copy of a conversion document certifying Sayegh had become a Muslim. The document was signed by two witnesses, as is required.
One witness was Zaher Khail, president of the Palestine International University, who according to Palestinian security officials is an Islamist close with Gaza-based terror groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Fatah officials say Khail assisted in kidnapping Sayegh, whose family stated she would "never" convert willingly to Islam. Fatah officials also accused Hamas leaders directly of overseeing Sayegh's "forced" conversion.
Sayegh's family and Gaza-based Christian leaders attempted to meet with former Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, but the Hamas leader declined a personal meeting.
Instead, according to sources close to Sayegh's family, a delegation of Hamas militants was sent to the Sayegh household to inform them the professor had converted "willingly" and that Sayegh no longer wanted to associate with her family unless they all converted to Islam.
Sayegh on Thursday showed up to work at the university but has not been in touch with her parents.
Sources close to her family and Fatah officials speculate she was threatened against contacting her family again. Calls by her family to Sayegh's new husband and his family were not returned.
About 2,000 Christians live in the Gaza Strip, which has a population of over 1 million.
Reprinted with the permission of WorldNetDaily