Egypt prepares new marriage and divorce law for non-Muslims

June 15, 2010

coptEgypt will draft a new law to govern marriage and divorce for non-Muslims, a state newspaper reported, a move analysts see as an attempt to contain anger after a court overruled the Coptic Orthodox Church last month.

Egypt’s Coptic church has long called for changes to the country’s personal status laws, which say Islamic rules on marriage and divorce prevail except in cases where both husband and wife are non-Muslims and from the same religious denomination. Under the current law, for instance, a Catholic husband with a Coptic wife could be subject to Islamic law.

“The Egyptian Minister of Justice Mamdouh Marie has decided to form a committee to prepare a personal draft law for Christians and non-Muslims,” the state-run al-Akhbar newspaper reported, adding it would take 30 days.

Pope Shenouda, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, protested after a court ruled that two Coptic men divorced from their wives could remarry. Divorce is an accepted practice in Egypt’s Muslim community but is prohibited by the Coptic Orthodox Church except in cases of adultery.

(Photo: Pope Shenouda rejects a court ruling allowing divorced Copts to remarry in a news conference at the cathedral in Cairo, June 8, 2010/Asmaa Waguih)

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