CAIRO: The Higher Administrative Court recently declined two requests to override its previous court ruling that allows Orthodox Copts to remarry, upholding a ruling it issued last May.
The two requests were made by Coptic lawyer and Head of Al-Kalema Center for Human Rights Mamdouh Nakhla, and lawyer Sameer Sabry.
The court said that there are no legal restrictions or new conditions that would otherwise prevent the Pope from permitting Coptic citizens Hany Wasfy and Magdy William from marrying again.
The court stressed that final court rulings must be executed according to the law and the constitution.
Ramsis El-Naggar, a lawyer for the Coptic Orthodox Church, described the new court ruling as “having no value” and said it poses “no obligations for the church.”
El-Naggar told Daily News Egypt on Wednesday that the two declined requests were filed by two lawyers who have no connection with the church, and that the church is not involved in the case.
“The Supreme Constitutional Court had issued a ruling last July to stop the Higher Administrative Court ruling and supported the ruling [made by] the Appeals Court [which prohibited] second marriage permission because [it contradicted] the teachings of Christianity,” said El-Naggar.
Monsef Naguib Soliman, a member of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church, told Daily News Egypt that the ruling is legally unbinding since it was filed by lawyers who do not represent the church.
“The church is committed to the Supreme Constitutional Court’s ruling, because it is legally higher than the Administrative Court,” Soliman said.
The ruling to allow Copts to remarry was lashed by Pope Shenouda, along with 90 members of the Holy Synod, issued a statement condemning it for opposing Christianity’s teachings.
The Orthodox Church does not allow divorce or second marriage outside of rare circumstances, such as if adultery had been committed.
The Ministry of Justice is currently working on a draft of a unified personal status law for Coptic Christians after it received drafts from several organizations. One of the drafts was provided by the Secular Copts Organization, and another was presented as a collective effort from the Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical Churches.
Naguib Gobrael, the head of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organization, described the court ruling as “void and cannot be executed, because it was previously halted by a ruling by the Supreme Constitutional Court.”
“This paved the way for more pressure on the church to allow second marriages,” said Gobrael. “It is natural to decline the complaints because [the Higher Administrative Court] cannot contradict its previous ruling last May.”