Egyptian Bar Association’s Islamic Law Committee Spurs Coptic Lawsuit
By Mohammed Al Baali
A Coptic Christian lawyer has filed suit against the head of the Egyptian Bar Association, Sameh Ashour, over the existence of the organization’s Sharia (Islamic law) committee.
Mamdouh Nakhleh demanded the creation of a similar Christian committee, or the transformation of the Sharia committee into a committee for national unity.
The Coptic lawyer said that the committee included five Muslim lawyers who served the cause of Islam alone.
He said Copts could accept the Sharia’h committee, provided that lawyers from other religions had the right to establish their own committees.
The Sharia committee was established within the bar association in the 1980s in order to pass amendments to Egyptian laws to make them consistent with Islamic precepts.
The committee’s work is based on Clause No. 2 of the Egyptian Constitution, which stipulates that Sharia is the main basis for legislation in Egypt. Members from the Muslim Brotherhood reportedly dominate the committee.
Nakhleh also this week sent a response to the Cairo-based Week publication, which on Monday reported that the Coptic lawyer had sent a letter to the US ambassador to Egypt demanding intervention to protect the Copts, who make up an estimated 10 to 16 percent of the population.
Nakhleh told Albawaba.com that the news report was totally baseless and that the Word Center for Human Rights – which he heads – had planned to send a letter to the new ambassador asking him to put human rights at the top of his agenda.
Nakhleh said, however, that the center had decided not to send the letter at the last moment, and that it was very likely that the press had obtained a copy and published it.
He said the center had also planned to asked the ambassador to deal with these issues “without prejudice and the usual American double standards in dealing with various issues.”