The ruling this week by Egypt’s Administrative Court allowing 12 Christians who converted to the Muslim religion, to “re-convert” has raised important issues pertaining to church-state. Hossam Bahgat of the Egyptian Institute for Persoanl Rights, the “ruling is welcome rejection of the government’s policy of discrimination against religious converts.” But, many other issues are left unresolved. Can a Muslim convert to Christianity? Although apostasy is not a crime, in effect, a person who abandons the Islamic faith loses inheritance rights and many other legal guarantees. Egyptian identify cards have a slot reserved for identification of an individual’s religion, or, if they convert, what was the original religion and what is the new one. Identification cards are necessaary for education, employment and most financial transactions.
Egypt seeks to be a modern nation, but ts authorities automatically convert Christian children to Islam if one of their parents converts to Islam regardless of their wishes. Secularists do not believe religion should be party of one’s legal identify since it is a personal matter, not one for state authorities. The Muslim world seeks to become part of the global community of nations, but modernity is associated with empowering people to make individual decisions regarding their political, social and religious opinions.