Admin court suspends conversion case

The administrative court ruled today to suspend a lawsuit filed by 27-year-old Christian convert Mohamed Hegazy by which the latter had hoped to change the religion listed on his national ID card from “Muslim” to “Christian.”

Judges ruled to suspend the case until a ruling was issued on a 2009 Constitutional Court case that challenged the constitutionality of Article 47 of the Civil Code, which allows citizens to change their names and religions on official documents.

“It essentially means that the court has buried the issue altogether,” Ashraf Edward, lawyer for the convert, told Al-Masy Al-Youm. According to Edward, the Constitutional Court will put off the ruling “for years” while Hegazy’s case remains in legal limbo.

The 2009 case aimed to resolve inconsistencies between two Egyptian laws: Article 47 of Egypt’s civil code that allows citizens to freely change their religion, and Article 2 of the national charter, which states that Islam is the “religion of the state” and that “principles of Islamic law represent the principal source of legislation.”

Hegazy has also filed an official complaint against the Interior Ministry for its refusal to allow him to change his official religion on his national ID card. This complaint, too, however, was rejected by the ministry.

The 27-year-old convert, who has changed his name to Bishoy Armia Boules, converted to Christianity at 16 years old, becoming the first Egyptian in recent memory to publicly announce his conversion from Islam to Christianity. He initially filed the lawsuit in 2007.

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