Egypt gives temporary custody of boy Shenouda to Christian parents after Mufti opinion

Ahram Online , Wednesday 29 Mar 2023

The North Cairo Prosecution ordered on Tuesday giving the mother who raised five-year-old boy Shenouda temporary custody over the child after a religious edict by the country’s Mufti.



The prosecution said in a statement that it ordered returning the child to Amal Ibrahim, the mother who found him as an infant and raised him as son, after she pledged to take care of the boy and provide him with a safe environment.

The prosecution added that it made this decision per a fatwa (religious edict) issued by the country’s Mufti  based on established precedent in Islamic jurisprudence.

It also instructed the mother to complete all legal fostering procedures in order to finalise custody of the child.

In late 2022, the authorities removed the boy Shenouda from the couple who raised him and placed in an orphanage after DNA tests showed the couple were not his biological parents.

The boy was then renamed Yusuf and assigned to the Islamic faith per customary practice.

The Ministry of Social Solidarity, which oversees fostering of children without known parents, was addressed to review the couple's request to take custody of the child under the alternative families system and in accordance with the Child Law and its regulatory bylaws, the prosecution said.

The prosecution also instructed the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood to take necessary legal steps to name the child after his Christian foster parents.

On Thursday, the Fatwa Global Centre of Al-Azhar, Egypt’s top religious authority, issued an opinion that an abandoned child who was found in a church by a non-Muslim individual belongs to the religion of the individual who found them.

The couple who raised the boy told authorities that they found him when he was a few days old in a church in Cairo.

They also said they named the infant Shenouda Farouk Fawzy after the father and raised him as their own.

On 18 March, an administrative court declined to rule in a lawsuit filed by the couple to regain the custody of their five-year-old child, citing lack of jurisdiction on the subject matter.

The court explained that it lacks the jurisdiction to rule on returning the boy to the couple who raised him or reversing the decision by the authorities to assign him to the Islamic faith.

Egyptian law does not assign a specific religion to children with unknown parents. 

However, the Civil Status Department at the Ministry of Interior, which regulates all personal documentation matters, assigns children with unknown parents to the Islamic faith customarily.

Adoption is prohibited by Egyptian law per Islamic Sharia.

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