Pope Tawadros II, the pope of Alexandria and the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Photo courtesy of The Spokesman of the Coptic Church.
During his weekly meeting at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, the head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church commended the efforts made recently to address the problem surrounding the child.
On Tuesday, the Cairo Prosecution issued a decision granting temporary custody of Shenouda to his adoptive mother, Amal Ibrahim, who had raised him for the past five years.
The decision was made following a religious edict by Dar El-Ifta, which stipulated that the boy should remain with the family who had found him as an abandoned infant.
"We thank our Lord for ending the issue of the child Shenouda, and we thank all those who worked hard on this subject," said the Pope, adding that "humanity triumphs over the law."
He went on to express his particular thanks to His Excellency the Mufti, who, through his effort, method, calmness, knowledge, and virtue, had presented a beautiful picture.
"We thank our Lord that the issue ended peacefully," he concluded.
The prosecution stated in its statement that it made this decision per a fatwa (religious edict) issued by the country’s Mufti based on established precedent in Islamic jurisprudence.
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.
In late 2022, the authorities took the boy Shenouda from the couple who raised him and placed him 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 approached 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.
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