The Education Directorate in Alexandria, is forcing young Mario and Andrew to write their religion as Muslim in their secondary school exam application forms 2008/2009 Their mother Camellia is furious and Dr.Gabriel decided to go immediately tomorrow, Wednesday morning to meet with the Minister of Education to implement his previous decision not to force the youngsters to sit for the Islamic religion exams. 30/12/2008D. Naguib GabrielChairman of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights The long-running case of Andrew and Mario has become an example of the unfair application of the Egyptian law with regards to the parental custody of minors, undermining the rights of the Christian parent. On 24/9/2008 a judge in Alexandria gave custody of the 13-year-old twin boys to their Muslim father. This Sharia-based decision ruled in favour of the Muslim father. This verdict was contrary to the Egyptian law’s Article 20, which grants custody of the children to their mothers until the age of 15, regardless of the mother’s religion. Also, the Egyptian Constitution’s Article 46 stipulates freedom of Religion, Child Rights Act and the various conventions. Even a fatwa issued by Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa on 4/4/2006 gave the right of custody of a child to the mother, even if she was an ‘Infidel’, due to the fact that the child came ‘from her water and earth which is close to her heart’. However, Muslim judges resort to Article 2 of the Constitution which states that the "principles of Islamic law are the principal source of legislation". This court ruling was pursuant to the rule of ‘no mandate for the non-Muslim over a Muslim’, based on the Islamic principle of ‘no Infidel should have a way to the believers- and the non domicile of the youngster in the home of those who hate them’, which in this case is their mother, based on difference of religion after they became Muslims, so as not to get used to the religion of ‘unbelief’. According to the law in Egypt, children of a Muslim parent, have to change their religion to follow the ‘better religion’. Thus, the verdict came in accordance with the filed statement of non-eligibility of the mother to the custody of her children, for the only reason of being a Christian. The boys’ father, Medhat Ramses Labib, converted to Islam in 1999 after divorcing their Mother Camellia to marry a Muslim woman. The father amended the official papers of the twin boys in 2006 to Muslims, and later applied for custody. Mario and Andrew came out on the Egyptian TV and said publicly that they are Christians and do not want to be Muslims. Their story caught the attention of the media when, obliged to sit for the Islamic religion test at school in May 2007-students have to pass Religion exams to be promoted to a higher class-the boys answered none of the questions. On his empty answer sheet Andrew wrote “I am Christian” and Mario wrote: “My religion is Christianity”. They failed the exam and had to re-take it, but again insisted on writing these single phrases.
It is worth noting that this case is just an example of the same problem facing hundreds of Christian mothers and their children who are caught in this dilemma!!!