Egypt’s highest court agreed Monday to hear the appeal of Coptic Christians who converted to Islam but now want to legally revert back to Christianity.
The case of the 12 former Copts seeking to once again become Christians was taken up by the high court despite a lower court ruling against the converts. The lower court in April had argued that recognising such a case would be regarded as apostasy under Sharia (Islamic law) law.
“The decision by the Supreme Administrative Court to consider the case of Egyptian converts to Islam wanting to return to their church is very positive,” said Ramsis Al Naggar, the lawyer for the plantiffs, according to the Middle East Times.
“It proves there is still a window of freedom in Egypt,” said Naggar, who has filed 400 similar lawsuits.
The minority Coptic population in Egypt is known to be oppressed by the country’s Muslim majority, although this is not well publicised. They are isolated from mainstream society and are often forced to convert to Islam through rape, marriage, change of legal name and violence, according to Cameel Halim, chairman of the Coptic Assembly of America.
Egypt’s Coptic oppression has for too long been “hidden under the table” and “no one knows what is going on”, said Halim at a recent gathering of persecuted religious minorities in Washington DC.
In May, a mob of Muslims in Egypt attacked Christians after being stirred up by a sermon and distributed leaflets that accused Christians of planning to build a church without permission. Some 27 Christian homes and shops were set on fire and 10 Coptic Christians were injured in a village south of Cairo, according to Agence France-Presse.