Egypt: What group has legal authority regarding marriage, and whether a Sheikh or a Cadi (religious judge) has the power to force a Christian to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim woman who has complained that the Christian assaulted her
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||1 October 1998|
|Citation / Document Symbol||EGY30109.E|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Egypt: What group has legal authority regarding marriage, and whether a Sheikh or a Cadi (religious judge) has the power to force a Christian to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim woman who has complained that the Christian assaulted her, 1 October 1998, EGY30109.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6abde0.html [accessed 5 December 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
The following information was provided during a 23 September 1998 telephone interview with a lawyer at the Egyptian Organization For Human Rights (EOHR) in Cairo.
The lawyer stated that in Egypt, marriage is religious, not civil, and it is done according to the religious laws, whether Islamic or Christian. However, the person who performs the procedure is a civil servant, and as such, the state has legal authority over marriage. In case of dispute, the judiciary (civil courts for personal affairs) would settle it according to the provisions of the Personal Status Law. There are two Personal Status Laws, one for Muslims and one for Christians.
A "neighbourhood" sheikh or a cadi, cannot force a Christian to convert to Islam in order to marry a Muslim woman who accused him of assault. Conversion to Islam requires a legal process which is outside the authority of a shiekh or a cadi. The conversion is done through the University of Al-Azhar, one of the highest religious institutions in the Islamic world. The process is complicated and requires various steps, among which is an interview between the Christian person who is willing to convert and a Christian priest.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.
Lawyer, Egyptian Organization For Human Rights, Cairo. 23 September 1998. Telephone interview.