Egypt: Mother Of Christian Twins Seeks Intervention To Prevent Their Forced Conversion

This is an update on this story.

From the Daily News Egypt:
CAIRO: Kamelia Lotfy Gaballah, a mother of two 16-year-old twins — Andrew and Mario — whose father converted to Islam, requested that the Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar issue her a fatwa that would prevent her children from forcibly converting to Islam.

Such a fatwa would eventually enable the twins to be registered as Christians on their national ID cards.

Gaballah presented a note to the Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayyeb which asks him to issue a fatwa indicating that Sharia gives the right to children who have reached the age of 15 to choose which religion they believe and follow.

This fatwa is meant to support a different one that Gaballah previously managed to obtain from the Egyptian House of Jurisprudence, through which she won custody of her children in April 2009 after their Muslim-convert father claimed custody was his.

Gaballah told Daily News Egypt that she is supposed to meet with the Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar soon, according to promises given by Al Azhar officials. Gaballah also confirmed that she met with many members of the Jurisprudence Committee of Al Azhar who have showed understanding in her case.

“The meeting was positive,” Gaballah said. “I was assured that Sharia is clear about this, because it is the kids' right at the age of 15 to choose their own religion regardless of the parents' religions.”

The case of Andrew and Mario raised controversy among human rights activists and religious scholars during the five-year custody battle.

The twins' secondary school stopped them both from attending religion classes due to an intervention made by the Minister of Education. The school had insisted that the twins must attend Islam classes rather than Christian classes since most of their documents identify the twins as Muslim.

Gaballah said that her kids know nothing about Islam, as they were born and raised as Christians.

Gaballah filed another lawsuit before the Administrative Court to change her twins' religion on their birth certificates, but the court refused to proceed with the lawsuit last March.

Later Gaballah appealed to the Higher Administrative Court, but the date for the hearing has not yet been scheduled.

The twins turned 16 last June and thus need to obtain their national ID cards. When a national ID card is issued, the religion listed on the ID is taken directly from the individual's birth certificate. As a result, Gaballah was advised to get a fatwa from Al Azhar for her two children.

“I just want to change their religion in the official papers to end their suffering, especially since they cannot take thanaweyya amma exams without their national ID cards,” Gaballah said.

According to Gaballah, the Department of Civil State Organization asked her to present either a court ruling that allows her children's religions to be changed, or some other official document that proves the twins are Christian. Without either of this documentation, they would be unable to issue the twins' national ID cards with their religion listed as Christian.

Gaballah's lawyer Alaa Fetyan told Daily News Egypt that they are merely trying to get the fatwa so that they may present it to the Department of Civil State Organization and get the twins' IDs issued.

“If we manage to get this fatwa, it will be presented to the Higher Administrative Court who will then ask the twins about their religion and the lawsuit will end,” Fetyan said.

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