CAIRO: The Secular Copts group presented to the Ministry of Justice last week its version of the unified personal status draft law for non-Muslims, which is currently being prepared by ministry and church representatives.
Following controversy over a court ruling — which was later frozen — obliging the Church to give remarriage licenses to divorcees, the Ministry of Justice formed a specialized committee to prepare and review a unified personal status law in collaboration with input from Egypt’s main churches — the Orthodox, the Catholic and the Evangelical.
The Secular Copts are calling for separate legislation for civil marriages — applicable to all citizens regardless of their religious affiliation — without the approval of any religious institution, whether it’s Al-Azhar or the church.
Kamal Zakher, the group coordinator, told Daily News Egypt he had submitted this draft law to the Ministry of Justice last Thursday.
The group’s bill covers issues pertaining to marriage and divorce that are ignored by the bill prepared by the ministry and the church, he claimed.
“We present our vision which is based on Biblical teachings and the traditions of the Church Fathers that contradict with what the Church leadership currently applies under Pope Shenouda,” he said.
Zakher added that the group will launch a public awareness campaign to promote the concept of civil marriages. The campaign would address misconceptions such as believing that civil marriages are not religiously legitimate.
The group’s bill would permit the remarriage of an adulterous spouse, a departure from the church rule to only give a second marriage license to the wronged partner in an adulterous marriage. “This is a cruel ruling that contradicts logic, human nature and Biblical teachings,” said Zakher of the Church’s law.
The bill also set 18 as the minimum age of marriage; Zakher said the church’s bill doesn’t include such an age limitation.