‘Christian Returnees’ issue injunction against interior ministry

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CAIRO: A group of Christians who converted to Islam and then back to Christianity issued an injunction against both the Minister of Interior and the head of the Civil Status Organization for not implementing a court order that allows them to be identified as Christians on their ID cards.


The group, dubbed the “Christian Returnees,” is paving the way for a lawsuit demanding that both officials be removed from the posts and arrested.

Over 2000 members of the group had filed a lawsuit demanding that their religious affiliation be changed on their national ID cards and provided documents proving their conversion back to Christianity.

The Administrative Court had ruled in favor of some of them, while the rest still await a ruling.

On the other hand, a group of Islamist lawyers filed a counter lawsuit questioning the court ruling; saying the article the court based its ruling on is unconstitutional.

The lawsuits were then transferred to the Supreme Constitutional Court whose initial commissioners’ report supported Christians’ right to change their religious affiliation.

The Returnees’ lawyers said that although the Supreme Constitutional Court is still looking into the counter lawsuits, that does not cancel the original ruling.

The injunction referred to the court ruling issued in 2008 compelling the Civil Status Organization to issue the Returnees national ID cards with their original religious affiliation and names.

The ruling was not implemented however because the Ministry of Interior appealed against it.

The group’s lawyer, Peter El-Naggar, told Daily News Egypt that the Higher Administrative Court’s ruling turned down the ministry’s appeal last May, upholding its previous ruling.

“Refusing to execute the court ruling is illegal, it strips citizens of their rights and devalues the court ruling,” he said.

Article 72 of the constitution subjects state officials who refrain from executing court rulings to punishment, giving the right to the petitioner to file a counter lawsuit against state officials.

Moreover, Article 123 of the penal code subjects state officials who use authority to not implement court rulings to imprisonment, El-Naggar said.

“The lawsuits being looked into by the Supreme Constitutional Court does not necessarily mean that the ruling cannot be enforced,” said El-Naggar.

“If the Supreme Constitutional Court said that it is not constitutional then it is the parliament’s role to change the constitution, but this will not cancel the court ruling.”


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