Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Egypt does not allow conversion to the Christian faith

Our most recent prayer request concerning Maher, a believer from a Muslim background (BMB), was issued on 16th April. Maher is involved in a legal battle to officially change his religious registration from Islam to Christianity so that both he and his daughter may be identified as Christians.

We regret to report that on Saturday 13th June an Egyptian court ruled against him.

According to human rights advocates present at the trial, Maher's application failed on both procedural and substantive grounds. Firstly, the certificate of conversion given to him by a Coptic priest had not been certified by the Coptic Orthodox Church, making it invalid. Secondly, while Egypt's Civil Code provides a procedure for the amendment of identity cards, the procedure requires submission of legal documents substantiating the need for any amendment. Because conversion from Islam to Christianity is not a legal concept, there is no competent body to offer Maher the necessary documents.

The judge accepted a State Council report which states that the religious conversion of a Muslim is against Islamic law and poses a threat to public order. A member of Maher's legal team commented that the State Council report fails to recognise both the Civil Code provisions and Egypt's commitments under international law to uphold religious freedom, and is instead based solely on Islamic principles and the concern to preserve public order

Maher's legal team is preparing to appeal this ruling. National human rights groups are confident of an appeal succeeding based on the fact that the judge's interpretation of the Civil Code was very restrictive.

Egyptian Christians request our prayers that:
a. Maher and his daughter will know the presence and peace of Jesus each day
b. All parties involved will act with integrity
c. Maher's legal team will know God's wisdom and enabling
d. The case will ultimately be successful, allowing them to have their identity cards changed and setting a precedent for other BMBs
e. All officials involved will be exposed to the claims of Jesus and be drawn to His offer of love and life.

(c) Middle East Concern

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