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07/01/2019 Egypt (International Christian Concern) –  Although it had for a time appeared that a unified personal status law regarding marriage for Egyptian non-Muslims was progressing, a delay has halted the debate. Personal status laws are intended to give non-Muslims the ability to regulate some of their own internal affairs, such as marriage, although Egypt is an Islamic country.

The Egyptian constitution allows canon principles to guide Egyptian Christian personal status laws, but special rights acknowledging doctrinal differences is not given. In other words, Egypt has made it clear that they will not recognize interpretational differences between denominations when it comes to regulating personal status laws.

The three major churches in Egypt—Coptic Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Evangelical—were seeking to streamline these issues, particularly regarding marriage. However, this debate has stalled within Christian circles. On a government level, there is also concern about some of their proposals being contrary to Islamic law.

This debate shows just how difficult normal life activities can be for Egyptian Christians. Since Islam is the official state religion, any activity of the church must conform to Islamic law. Rather than respecting denominational differences, the government forces churches to ignore these nuances in order to remain in compliance with Islamic law. As a result, religious freedom in Egypt once again finds itself constricted.

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