Tens demonstrate for rights of Christians to civil marriage and divorce

Salma Shukrallah, Thursday 7 Jul 2011

Egypt's Christians demand the right to divorce and remarry

Christians to civil marriage
(Photo by Salma Shukrallah)

Tens gathered on Thursday in front of the justice ministry demanding the rights for Egyptian Christians to civil marriage. The mostly Christian demonstrators protested that they were neither able to divorce nor remarry.

The banners held read “no to changing religion to gain divorce,” and “a civil marriage and divorce saves Egypt from sectarian strife.” Lawyer Mansour Khalil objected, saying “Pope Shenouda should stay away from a unified civil law.”

In Egypt each citizen is subject to the laws of the religion declared on his or her government identification card. For Christians divorce is only allowed when one of a couple commits adultery, converts to another religion, or converts to a different Christian denomination.

Egypt has recently witnessed several sectarian clashes as a result of reports or rumours of Copts converting to Islam in order to get a divorce. Claims that the church has held women against their will to keep them from converting to Islam have triggered several incidences of sectarian violence. The most recent was in Imbaba when a Muslim woman was allegedly held by the Coptic Church after she had converted to Islam and married a Muslim.

Fawqy Ayed Abdallah, 43, carried a banner reading “I will not live lonely my whole life,” and said he has been separated from his wife now for six years and still cannot get a divorce. He wants a civil law for marriage and divorce separate from the church so that he can remarry. 


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