Monday, February 11, 2008


Egypt allows converts to revert to Christianity on ID

CAIRO (AFP) — An Egyptian court in an "historic decision" on Saturday authorised 12 converts to Islam who then reverted to Christianity to have their original faith marked on their ID cards, judicial sources said.

They said the court allowed the Coptic plaintiffs to mark "Christian" on their compulsory identity cards, in place of the "Muslim" mention which was used after their conversion.

But their IDs will have to specify that they had "adopted Islam for a brief period", the sources said.

The court of administrative justice ruled that the mention would "prevent any manipulation or concealment with judicial or social consequences" following the conversion to Islam.

"This is an historic decision, a victory for freedom of religion in Egypt and in keeping with Article 46 of the constitution which calls for freedom of religion," the plaintiff's lawyer Ramses al-Naggar told AFP.

The verdict was greeted with applause among the plaintiffs and their lawyers and other Coptic onlookers in the courtroom, many of whom cried out, "Long live justice."

Naggar said it would set a precedent for many such cases in Egypt.

"I have won my identity back. I am alive again," said Yasser Helmi, a 27-year-old man among the plaintiffs. "I couldn't get an identity card and my life had ground to a halt."

Helmi said his father had converted to Islam, without the knowledge of his wife and son who was a child at the time.

In Egypt, Copts who represent six to 10 percent of the 76-million population are known to convert to escape the strict rules of their church which bans divorce or to marry a Muslim woman.

A lower court had previously refused to take up the case, which was opposed by the Egyptian government.


Pertinent Links:

1) Egypt allows converts to revert to Christianity on ID

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