Christian Copts in Egypt Continue to Suffer Discrimination, New Laws Are Needed, Says Judge

A prominent judge in Egypt has called on the government to ensure the equitable treatment of Copts in the country.

Judge Amir Ramzi has insisted Egyptian government needs to criminalize discrimination, as well as allow conversions from Islam to Christianity. He also called for the return of guidance sessions for those wishing to convert. Ramzi denounced the kidnapping of Copts and asking for ransom from their relatives, a phenomenon that has significantly increased recently.

"There may be a few extremist judges, and others belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood within the judiciary, or even who share the same ideologies. Thus, the Supreme Judicial Council has begun to take action against judges who declared their loyalty to the Brotherhood, viewing this as an official declaration of non-neutrality," Ramzi told Mideast Christian News.

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Ramzi said court decisions to release criminals who have murdered Copts is probably not the fault of the judge, but rather the police and public prosecution, who may withhold evidence.

The recent ruling against Sheikh Abu Islam, accused of contempt of Christianity, is a good decision by the court, said Ramzi, pointing out that that perhaps for the first time a court ruling "delights Copts."

Ramzi said religious conversion must only be allowed for adults while insisting that Copts need to focus on this issue in order to stop the conversion of underage Coptic girls to Islam.

The amended constitution takes into account marginalized groups, he said, including Copts, women and youth. In addition to calling for the establishment of an anti-discrimination office, the constitution also allows Christians to resort to their religious legislation and choose their religious leaders.

Ramzi met with Pope Tawadros and Bishop Paula a couple of months ago. The men discussed the issue of a "quota," considering it the only way to solve the problem of Coptic representation in parliament. The Pope refused the label "quota," but did agree on the necessity of a fair representation of Copts in parliament.

"The Quota isn't a consecration of the religious state," Ramzi said, as they are only demanding it for a limited period. He also called for equality in occupying senior governmental positions among Copts and Muslims.

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