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Coptic leader unmoved by court ruling on divorce March 04, 2008

The head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church has announced that his Church will not recognize the authority of an Egyptian court ruling that Copts can convert to Islam, obtain a divorce, and then return to the Coptic faith. "We only abide by the Bible," Pope Shenouda III told the Egyptian daily Al Ahram. He added that the court ruling had only "civil, not religious" authority.

The Coptic Orthodox Church does not recognize divorce, although it does provide for the annulment of marriages in case of adultery. Copts who obtain a civil divorce are not allowed to remarry in the church.

Ordinarily Egyptian law does not allow recognition to Muslims who convert to the Christian faith. But the country's top court ruled that Christians who become Muslims in order to exploit Islamic laws allowing easy divorce may then return to their original faith. Pope Shenouda made it clear that Coptic leaders would not look with favor on those who used the legal loophole.

Copts constitute about 10% of Egypt's population.

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