Egypt protesters demand `civil marriage`

Dozens of Egyptians protested to demand the introduction of civil marriages.

Updated: Jul 07, 2011, 23:54 PM IST

Cairo: Dozens of Egyptians protested
on Thursday to demand the introduction of civil marriages, in order
to be able to divorce or remarry.

Protesters -- Coptic Christians as well as Muslims --
want the next parliament elected in September to adopt a law
to to allow civil marriages.

Currently, Egyptians follow the law of their religion
when it comes to marriage and divorce.

The Coptic church only allows divorce in very
exceptional circumstances, forcing some to resort to convert
to Islam to obtain a legal separation.

Muslim women are not allowed to marry Christian men,
unless they convert to Islam.

Today civil marriages are limited to Egyptians
marrying foreigners.

Cases of conversion have sparked tensions, and even
clashes between both communities.

"It usually starts with a personal problem and then
transforms into a major problem," said Karima Kamal, author of
the book "The Coptic Divorce."

On May 7 clashes erupted in the working-class
neighbourhood of Imbaba, an overcrowded maze of residential
buildings and shops, that left 12 dead and 52 injured.

Muslims had attacked the Coptic Saint Mena church in
Imbaba in a bid to free a Christian woman they alleged was
being held against her will because she wanted to convert to
Islam.

Bureau Report