Christian Challenges Egypt’s Inheritance Laws

11/18/2019 Egypt (International Christian Concern) – An Egyptian Coptic Christian woman is challenging Egypt’s Islamic inheritance laws in court, the final verdict of which is expected to be issued sometime this month.

Huda Nasrallah, a Christian human rights lawyer, is challenging the government’s decision to grant her inheritance according to Islamic doctrine. Egypt has a personal status legal system that is supposed to regulate the application of laws such as inheritance according to the citizen’s religion. However, these laws are highly contentious and often cause a number of problems. Nasrallah has already faced three judges, who each ruled that according to Islamic law, her portion of her father’s inheritance should be half that of her brothers. She has based her petition based on Coptic bylaws which call for the equal distribution of inheritance.

Personal status laws are in desperate need of reform within Egypt. However, any attempt at reform is riddled with challenges. Religion is such a highly politicized issue within Egypt that there are no opportunities to resolve any personal issue through a civil process, as religious identity dictates the process. Since Egypt does not recognize a civil, non-religious legal process, Christian denominations have to overcome basic theological differences in order to present a unified request for changes to personal status laws. Thus attempts to reform personal status laws as it relates to marriage, divorce, inheritance, and adoption continue to stall.

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