AFRICA/EGYPT - Law on the personal status of Egyptian Christians is about to be passed

Tuesday, 11 January 2022 middle east   oriental churches   laws   religious minorities   citizenship

Cairo (Agenzia Fides) - The new law on the personal status of Egyptian Christians, which also contains provisions on sensitive family law issues and which the Coptic Orthodox Church and other churches and ecclesial communities in Egypt have been waiting for decades, could shortly be examined and passed by the parliament in Cairo. This comes from a statement made by Atef Maghawry, a member of Parliament's Legislative Committee, Egyptian MP. Based on what he knew about the parliamentary agenda, Maghawry stated that the bill will soon be submitted for consideration and vote to the Parliamentary Assembly, which will resume its plenary sessions on January 23.
The revision of the legislative text on the personal status, on which the Egyptian Ministry of Justice has been working for a long time, was completed in the first half of 2021 (see Fides, 6/7/2021). The revision process had required 16 working sessions, hosted at the Ministry, which brought together experts, officials of the Government Department and representatives of the various Christian denominations, summoned by the civil authorities in order to examine the text and obtain the consent of all the Churches and ecclesial communities regarding the wording of all the articles of the bill.
At the beginning of July 2021, the MP Monsef Suleiman, legal advisor to the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, told the Egyptian Internet portal Masrawy that the revised draft of the text would be examined by the State Council before it would be submitted to the House of Representatives for a parliamentary vote, which would give its final approval and set the timeframe for its entry into force.
The participation of the churches and ecclesial communities represented in Egypt in the lengthy process of drafting a new law on civil status had already begun in 2014 (see Fides, 22/11/2014). Even then, the Ministry of Justice had submitted a draft law to the heads of the various churches with the request that they examine the text and convey their thoughts on the matter as soon as possible. The elaboration of the draft took longer, mainly because of the deliberations aimed at formulating a text that was supposed to be uniform, but nevertheless the different church approaches in questions such as separation and divorce of spouses, which are regulated differently by the different Christian denominations are taken into account. The draft of the legal text, which was drawn up by consensus among representatives of the various churches and ecclesiastical communities, was handed over to the government authorities on October 15, 2020. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 11/1/2022)