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Is an Islamic orphanage better for children than a Christian mother?

ICC Note

Egyptian court ruled to give custody of two young children to their father who is a Muslim convert though he is abusive and alcoholic. Their Christian mother is denied the custody right because the court believes that the children should be raised as Muslims though the two children prefer not to stay with their father. This is case is a clear example of how the Egyptian justice system is set up to promote the interest of Muslims and discriminate against Christians and other non-Muslims.

By Nader Shukry

January 13, 2008 Egypt (US Copts Association) – …

Convert father

This year’s case concerns the 12-year-old Christian girl Ashraqat and her 8-year-old sister Maria whose Christian mother Amal Mounir was ordered by the Family Court to hand them over to their Muslim convert father Wafiq Gohar in order for him to bring them up as Muslims. The father had married the mother according to the Coptic Orthodox creed in 1986 and they had four children. Two of these are today young men above 18 and thus legally free to choose their religion, and the other two are Ashraqat and Maria. The court ruling declared that: “Since the two girls are more than seven years old—the age in which they are expected to understand and rationalise religion—and since the plaintiff fears that if they remain in their mother’s custody they would cherish a religion other than Islam, eat foods [pork] that are banned in Islam, and go to church, the court has ruled in favour of the father, granting him custody of the two girls.”

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Shattering

The ruling shattered Ms Mounir, the girls’ mother. She insisted the father had demanded custody of the children to evade his financial commitments towards them, and that he used to treat them with the utmost cruelty. He had also been indicted in several cases of forgery and fraud, and this was why he decided to convert, she said. He even threatened, she claimed, to place the girls in an Azhari [Islamic] orphanage since he personally cannot take care of them.

As for Ashraqat and Maria, they were in tears at the ruling. Ashraqat said their father was an alcoholic and, when under the effect of alcohol, he would beat them and their mother. They used to escape to their maternal grandfather’s until he died and there was no one they could go to and they had to bear their father’s cruelty.

The lawyer Ramsis Raouf al-Naggar who represents the mother described the ruling as “unjust, corrupt and in violation of the Constitution and the law.” He has already contested the ruling. Peter al-Naggar who is also a lawyer said that the judge yielded to his own personal preference of Islam as a religion instead of basing his ruling upon the law.

Flagrant manipulation

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