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Andrew and Mario Awaiting a decision

Since the Egyptian law stipulates that rulings by the personal status court may only be contested by the public prosecutor, Ms Kamilia Lutfi appealed to the public prosecutor Abdel-Megid Mahmoud to

contest the court’s 2008 ruling to grant her former husband Medhat Ramsis custody of their 14-year-old twins Andrew and Mario. Ramsis had converted to Islam in 2005, which makes his sons automatically Muslim by law, a matter that the Christian-born twins adamantly refused. They went so far as to risk their scholastic future by refusing to sit for the mandatory exam in [Islamic] religion, insisting they were Christian. The Education Minister Yusri al Gamal issued an exceptional decree allowing them to continue their studies until their case is resolved in court.

The court battle for the custody of the twins has been ongoing between their Christian mother and Muslim father. Egyptian law normally grants the mother custody of children until they are 15, after which the children are given the choice of which parent to live with. In case of the twins this provision was waived and they were required to live with their Muslim father in order to be brought up as Muslims. The twins’ case became a public opinion case, with rights groups defending the right of the boys to the constitutionally-stipulated freedom of belief, and the National Council for Motherhood and Childhood defending their right and that of their mother to remain together. The recent appeal by the public prosecutor was hence applauded by them all, even though Islamists insist that, according to sharia, the twins are Muslim. A court decision is expected shortly.

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