The noted human rights lawyer El-Naggar, has sent an urgent Appeal to President Mubarak, to intervene in speeding up a session date for the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) to give its ruling on the constitutionality of Article 47 of the civil affairs law, and consequently decide the fate of previous rulings in favor of Christian reverts in what is known as â€œre-conversionâ€ case
The SCC will consider whether this legal provision, which allows one to freely change his religion, is compatible with Article 2 of the Constitution, stipulating that Islam is the official religion of the State and that the principles of Shari’a are the main source of legislation.
Christian citizens who had converted to Islam and then back to Christianity had filed lawsuits asking that their identity cards reflect their "re-conversion" to Christianity. The court ruled in their favor in February 2008.
However, the Administrative Judicial Court, headed by Chancellor Mohamed El-Husseini decided on March 4 2008 to halt any cases brought forth by citizens who want to confirm their conversion back to Christianity after they had converted to Islam.
The Judge also decided to refer the issue to the Supreme Constitutional Court, which will rule on the constitutionality of Article 47 of the civil affairs law.
Mr.El-Naggar said that this delay in setting a session date for the SCC results in all Christian reverts being in danger of prosecution according to the Article 60 of the civil law, as they hold no document which proves obtaining a ruling allowing them to do so. Besides, he is representing approximately 2800 Christians waiting for this ruling.
He also commented that although the SCC has not yet determined the legality of Article 47, however, a landmark ruling during this month in Alexandria, has for the first time given a Christian revert the right to officially register as Christian,which proves the legality of this Article.
In Egypt, the 15 million Copts are known to convert just to escape the strict rules of their church which bans divorce or marriage to a Muslim woman.
Without the official ID cards, Egyptians can not apply for jobs, buy property, open bank accounts or register their children in schools. They are also subject to arrest for not carrying valid identity papers.
Sources:Nader Shoukry/Copts United and Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights Organization