By Marwa Al-A’asar
CAIRO: Coptic lawyer Morris Sadek filed a complaint earlier this week before a UN body against the Egyptian government for stripping him of his nationality on charges of high treason.
Sadek’s complaint — filed before the United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva — identifies his opponents as the head of the ruling army council, the judges who handed down the verdict, the interior minister, the justice minister, the lawyers who filed the lawsuit against him and the lawyers’ syndicate president.
On May 22, the State Council’s Administrative Court ordered the interior ministry, representing the Cabinet, to strip Sadek of his Egyptian citizenship due to his constant incitement against Egypt in what constitutes “high treason.”
Legally, the verdict cannot be appealed, but it can be contested before a higher court.
In his complaint, 69-year-old Sadek said he was never given the chance to make his plea or defend himself. He said he couldn’t contest the verdict and issue a power of attorney to any lawyer in Egypt to represent him.
“Any attempt to do that must be at an Egyptian consulate. At this point, my Egyptian passport will be withdrawn,” Sadek told Daily News Egypt in an email exchange. “The ruling also bans me from entering my country of birth, Egypt.”
In addition, the court ordered that Sadek’s membership at the Lawyers’ Syndicate in Egypt be revoked.
Sadek said that if the OHCHR considers his case, it may turn into an international lawsuit against Egypt.
Last year, the Islamic Lawyers Association (ILA) filed a complaint before the Prosecutor General against Sadek, whom they described as “the extremist,” for “committing crimes … that would have an impact on the security of the state.”
The ILA also accused Sadek of insulting Prophet Mohamed, a claim he denied.
Sadek said in his complaint that the case against him was filed by unconcerned parties based on “Hisba,” a doctrine that entitles any Muslim to take legal action against anyone considered harmful to Islam. The concept is sometimes used in politically-motivated lawsuits.
Sadek described the court order as “null and void,” violating his freedom of speech.
Quoting the Universal International Declaration of Human Rights ratified by Egypt and other countries, he told DNE, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom … to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
Sadek, who immigrated with his family to the US in 1999, is the president of the National American Coptic Assembly (NACA). He is currently working as a lawyer in Washington, DC.
Sadek is known for his controversial statements, once calling on Israel to interfere in Egypt’s domestic affairs to protect Egyptian Copts.
In May 2010, Sadek sent a letter to Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman asking him to convince the United Nations to impose an international mandate over Egypt due to what he described as the “oppression” Egyptian Copts were exposed to.
Sadek considered convicting him of high treason as a proof of “public hostility of extremist Egyptians against Israel.”
An Egyptian citizen can be legally stripped of his nationality if, at any time, he is seen to embrace Zionism.
“Israel and Egypt have diplomatic ties… [and] economic relations as the two had entered into a peace treaty. So Israel is not an enemy of Egypt,” Sadek previously told DNE, arguing that there is “no single Egyptian law preventing a citizen from contacting a country and using its friendly relationship with Egypt to call for equality between citizens.”
Sadek justified his endeavors to seek international interference by saying that he criticized human rights violations which Egyptian Christians had been subjected to. Sadek threatened in earlier controversial statements that “if such persecution was not stopped, he would call for dividing Egypt in order for Copts to have their own country and nation.”
The Coptic Church has recurrently denounced Sadek’s statements.