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Andrew and Mario refuse to be considered non-Christian

“I am Christian”

ICC Note

Andrew and Mario are heroes who chose to honor Christ in their lives even if that meant sacrificing their education.

By Nash’at Abul-Kheir

August 21, 2007 Egypt (Watani)-On Tuesday 17 July the 13-year-old twins Andrew and Mario Medhat Ramsis sat for a re-examination in Islamic Religion at their school, Lycèe al-Horriya, in Alexandria . They may have been just another two of the children who had not, for one reason or the other, managed to score a passing grade in the exam and thus had to re-sit for it, except for the fact that Andrew and Mario are Christian.

“Best religion”

The two boys were born to Christian parents, grew up Christian and are altar boys in church. The State, however, considers them Muslims since their father, Medhat Ramis, converted to Islam in 2000 then reconverted to Christianity in 2002 then back to Islam in 2003. In the meantime he carried two ID cards, one as a Christian and one as a Muslim. He also separated from his wife. He is currently a Muslim and since, according to Egyptian law which considers Islam the ‘best religion’, a Muslim passes on his religion to his children, Ramsis this year changed his sons’ birth certificates to cite them as Muslims. Accordingly, the education directorate of the children’s school considered them Muslim.

As the second school term began last February, the mother of the twins discovered her children were being taught Islamic religion instead of the Christian religion they were studying during the first term—and for that matter all their lives.

When they sat for the exam last May the boys answered none of the questions. On his answer sheet Andrew wrote “I am Christian” and Mario wrote: “My religion is Christianity”. They failed the exam and had to re-take it last week, but again insisted on writing these single phrases.

The mother had addressed the Education Ministry about the boys’ predicament, and the ministry decided to cancel their Islamic religion exam. But a few days before the date of the re-exam the Alexandria administrative court issued a ruling annulling the ministry’s decision. The boys’ mother is contesting the ruling in the higher court which is scheduled to issue a judgement on 3 September.


Naguib Gabraïl, a lawyer and the head of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights described the children’ as “heroes” and said they should be aided in their quest for right and justice. He said that all official and lawful means in Egypt had been used to solve the boys’ problem, but failed. Now, Mr Gabraïl said, the only option is to put their case, which concerns freedom of belief, before the international community. He said he would take the case to the United Nations Human Rights Council, and revealed that he had already been contacted by the Washington and Montreal International bar association regarding the case.


The twins’ mother asks: “How am I to stand single-handed against society at large?”

Broken family

At their home in Camp Cezar in Downtown Alexandria, Watani met Andrew and Mario and their beautiful mother Kamilia Lotfy. She told us she married Mr Ramsis in 1986, and gave birth to her eldest son George who is today a student at Alexandria University ’s Faculty of Engineering. Her husband was then a naval Captain and used to travel frequently. There were always problems between her and her husband though, because of what Ms Lotfy describes as the unwarranted interference of her father-in-law in their family affairs.

In 1994 Mario and Andrew were born, and the family had a brief respite from problems. In 1997 Ramsis founded a trade business and once more tensions arose because of the husband’s frequent extra-marital affairs. Three years later he converted to Islam and married a journalist whom he divorced in 2002. He became a Christian once more but after few months later married a Muslim woman, had a son whom he called Amre, and reverted to Islam.


Andrew and Mario

The twins talked to Watani. They asserted that they wrote they were Christian in the exam answer sheet because they refused to be examined a religion other than the one they believe in. “Even if this means that you fail your religion exam, which entails that you would not be transferred to the higher class?” Watani asked. “Yes,” they both answered, “The proctor advised us to jot down on the answer sheet any information on Islam we might know, just so we don’t fail, but we refused.”

“We refuse to be Muslim, and we wish to go on living with our mother,” they insisted; it was very obvious they felt threatened. Andrew said that even if forced to live with their father “we will still pray and remain Christian.” The twins said they were grateful because of the high profile media coverage their case was getting, since they want the judges to listen to their problem and their real plea.

“We want to have the right to remain in our church,” they said.


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