The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) today called on the state to assume its legal responsibility to protect and fulfill the right of all citizens to marry and found a family, a right enshrined in the Egyptian constitution and international human rights law. Commenting on the ongoing debate over proposed amendments to Coptic Orthodox personal status regulations, the EIPR said that state officials must immediately create alternatives that guarantee citizens their right to make decisions concerning their private and family life, regardless of their religion or the stance of religious institutions.
Recently leaders of the Coptic Church announced their intention to amend the Coptic Orthodox personal status regulations, issued by the Milli Council in 1938. The amendments will impose further restrictions on Copts' right to divorce and remarry. If the amendments are approved, they will close the door to thousands of Copts who have turned to family courts for a divorce based on the 1938 regulations after the Church refused to allow them to divorce or remarry.
"State officials have no right to wash their hands of the problems, needs, and suffering of thousands of Coptic citizens who are demanding no more than their basic right to marry and create a family," said Hossam Bahgat, director of the EIPR. "The Church is entitled to its interpretation of religious texts, but the state has the right—indeed, the duty—to provide an alternative to those Copts who disagree with this interpretation."
The EIPR urged state officials and parl