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Author Topic: MODERN EGYPT  (Read 7464 times)
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« Reply #30 on: January 14, 2009, 10:19:08 am »

According to Hassan, Copts must continue to accept what they have long accommodated: they are a numerical minority who are not eligible to stand for the presidency. "We are not interfering with freedom of worship or civil rights but there cannot be equal numbers of churches and mosques or a Coptic president in a country where over 94 per cent of the population is Muslim."

But for many Copts their grievances are not just about the number of churches or access to the presidency. They also include the right of Copts who converted to Islam to revert to their original religious status if they so wish.

"I admit that I converted to get a divorce but I now want to go back to my family and be accepted again in my own society," said one Coptic man speaking on condition of anonymity. He adds that he does not want his children to have to convert to Islam in order to follow their father's religion, as Egyptian law requires. The only way out for him is to reclaim his Christian religion officially.

According to Sharia Muslims are not allowed to convert. State officials and Muslim scholars complain that Islamic laws cannot be bent to fit the wishes of some "to use Islam" as an exit from Coptic restrictions on personal status matters. "Let the Coptic Church solve this problem," said one justice official who asked for his name to be withheld.

The Coptic Church, however, cannot do much to help those Muslims, however few, who wish to convert to Christianity. "I decided to be Christian. I know it is shocking but I did want to be Christian. Not to marry a Christian but just to be a Christian," said one middle-aged woman who asked for her identity to be withheld. Abandoned by her family, she has taken refuge at the house of a Christian family but has a serious legal problem -- on paper she remains, and will always be, a Muslim.

"Now why can Copts, Christians in general, convert to Islam when Muslims cannot convert to Christianity? What does that say about the way the state perceives Christianity? I will tell you. It says that for the state Christianity is simply not a religion," comments one priest.
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