Pro-divorce protester arrested outside Cathedral
Church - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: A protester was arrested Friday while allegedly attempting to enter the Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo with a sign that read “the people of the church are angry,” Youm7 reported.

A demonstration was organized by Copts to protest the Holy Synod’s decision to postpone a discussion over the Coptic personal status law. Gaber al-Nekheily, the organizer of the protest, told Youm7 that Tharwat Sobhy was arrested carrying the sign.

The controversial Coptic personal status law does not allow divorce except in cases of infidelity and converting in a country where civil marriage is not recognized.

“Thousands of Copts are victims” of the law, as many are stuck in “failed marriages” or are unable to remarry, Nekheily told Youm7.

The Ministry of Transitional Justice presented a draft unified law for Christians earlier in November last year and requested their feedback, as article three of the 2014 constitution stipulates that Christians and Jews may regulate their own personal affairs and select their personal leaders.

The ministry’s draft provided for 14 reasons for the “dissolution of marriage,” as well as an article that allowed civil marriage for Christians, according to Youm7.

The churches’ draft disapproved civil marriage, and also set a code to prevent Christians from getting a divorce from civil courts after they convert to a different Christian sect or to Islam, a source at the Orthodox Church previously told Youm7.

Some Christians have used this tactic to obtain divorce and then they often convert back to their original sect.

Egyptian churches, with the Orthodox Church being the largest, have failed to agree on a unified draft to return to the Transitional Justice Ministry.

So far only the Evangelical Church approved of the principle of civil marriage, and only the Catholic Church refused the principle of divorce, but rather set adultery only as a reason for “physical separation;” hence individual addendums.

Youm7 reported that the number of Christians who petitioned the Church in support of divorce and remarriage reached 20,000 persons in 2010 over 20 years.

Additional reporting by Sara Allam

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