Egypt’s Unified Personal Status law for Christians excludes minority denominations



Tue, 07 Mar 2017 - 11:22 GMT


Tue, 07 Mar 2017 - 11:22 GMT

Coptic Christian Church relief wall - creative commons via Wikimedia Commons

Coptic Christian Church relief wall - creative commons via Wikimedia Commons

CAIRO – 7 March 2017: Egyptian Churches do not recognize the denominations of

Seventh-Day Adventists

and Jehovah’s Witnesses and will not accept their input in drafting the unified personal status law for Christians in Egypt, Secretary-General of Egypt Churches Council Refaat Fathi told

Youm7 Tuesday


The law, usually referred to publicly the ‘unified personal status law for Copts,’ will generally apply to all Christians in Egypt. However, some denominations that are recognized by the state as Christians are not considered by the draft law.

“These denominations were established and registered in special situations in the middle of the nineteenth century,” Fathi said, stressing that churches in Egypt are not obliged to recognize them or include them in any discussion or legislation.

The Ministry of Justice negotiated with the three main Christian denominations in Egypt, Orthodox, Evangelicals and Catholics, to mediate among the different perspectives without consulting with other smaller groups that are legally registered as Christian communities in Egypt.

“How would the law apply to us when we have not agreed to it and did not take part in drafting it?” Father Anwas Iskandar, legal representative of the Adventists said, according to

Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism


Lawyer Peter El Naggar said these groups are officially certified by presidential decrees and their exclusion from the legislation discussion is unconstitutional and could compromise the constitutionality of the law, Youm7 reported.

Christians are believed to make up approximately

10 percent

of the Egyptian population and they are mostly Coptic Orthodox.

According to the

Seventh-Day Adventists Church website

, there is a total of 853 Adventists in Egypt and Sudan and they have less than 20 churches, while

there are between 1,000 and 1,500 Jehovah's Witnesses in Egypt

, the U.S. Department of State reported in 2013.

The proposed law has been in the works for decades, and this is the third attempt to come up with a unified personal status law for non-Muslims in Egypt. The three major Christian communities (Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical) first met in 1979 and agreed to a first draft.



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