CAIRO: Tens of Copts demonstrated Sunday in front of parliament, demanding the People’s Assembly pass a unified personal status law for Copts and another regulating the construction of houses of worship.
The demonstration, which was organized by the Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organization, featured the participation of 11 groups representing Diaspora Copts from the US, the UK, Austria and France, among others.
Passing these two laws would solve many problems prevalent in Egypt’s Coptic community, demonstrators said. The unified personal status law, which was approved by the three main Egyptian churches — the Orthodox, the Catholic and the Evangelical churches — would end contradictions between civil and Coptic laws.
The personal status law came to the fore the past two weeks, when the Supreme Administrative Court obliged the Pope to give divorcees licenses for a second marriage. In response Pope Shenouda III, who said this would be a violation of Bible teachings, filed a writ that was accepted by the court and that suspended the implementation of the verdict.
A law regulating the construction of houses of worship would also put an end to sectarian clashes resulting from building churches.
The demonstrators presented a letter to PA speaker Fathi Sorour demanding the two laws be included on this session’s agenda.
They also called for the president’s intervention to speed up the process of passing the laws.
“The unified personal status law has been with the ministerial council since the approval of the three churches in 1980. The houses of worship law has been with parliament since 2002. We don’t know why they haven’t been approved,” said Naguib Gobrail, church lawyer and head of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organization.
Describing how this delay has led to several embarrassing and violent incidents, Gobrail called upon the President “as a father to all Egyptians, Muslims and Christians, to intervene and lift this injustice.”
On Saturday, egyptnews.net reported that Justice Minister Mamdouh Marei had ordered the formation of a legislative committee to draft a personal status law pertaining to non-Muslims and set a 30-day deadline for its completion.