Voice of the Copts

Serious development in the case of the two children, Andrew and Mario.

The Education Directorate in Alexandria, is forcing young Mario and Andrew
to write their religion as Muslim in their secondary school exam application
forms 2008/2009

Their mother Camellia is furious and Dr.Gabriel decided to go immediately
tomorrow, Wednesday morning to meet with the Minister of Education to
implement his previous decision not to force the youngsters to sit for the
Islamic religion exams.

D. Naguib Gabriel
Chairman of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights

The long-running case of Andrew and Mario has become an example of the
unfair application of the Egyptian law with regards to the parental custody
of minors, undermining the rights of the Christian parent.

On 24/9/2008 a judge in Alexandria gave custody of the 13-year-old twin boys
to their Muslim father. This Sharia-based decision ruled in favour of the
Muslim father.

This verdict was contrary to the Egyptian law's Article 20, which grants
custody of the children to their mothers until the age of 15, regardless of
the mother's religion.  Also, the Egyptian Constitution's Article 46
stipulates freedom of Religion, Child Rights Act and the various

Even a fatwa issued by Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa on 4/4/2006 gave the right of
custody of a child to the mother, even if she was an 'Infidel', due to the
fact that the child came 'from her water and earth which is close to her

However, Muslim judges resort to Article 2 of the Constitution which states
that the "principles of Islamic law are the principal source of

This court ruling was pursuant to the rule of 'no mandate for the non-Muslim
over a Muslim', based on the Islamic principle of 'no Infidel should have a
way to the believers- and the non domicile of the youngster in the home of
those who hate them', which in this case is their mother, based on
difference of religion after they became Muslims, so as not to get used to
the religion of 'unbelief'.

According to the law in Egypt, children of a Muslim parent, have to change
their religion to follow the 'better religion'.

Thus, the verdict came in accordance with the filed statement of
non-eligibility of the mother to the custody of her children, for the only
reason of being a Christian.

The boys' father, Medhat Ramses Labib, converted to Islam in 1999 after
divorcing their Mother Camellia to marry a Muslim woman. The father amended
the official papers of the twin boys in 2006 to Muslims, and later applied
for custody.

Mario and Andrew came out on the Egyptian TV and said publicly that they are
Christians and do not want to be Muslims. Their story caught the attention
of the media when, obliged to sit for the Islamic religion test at school in
May 2007-students have to pass Religion exams to be promoted to a higher
class-the boys answered none of the questions. On his empty answer sheet
Andrew wrote "I am Christian" and Mario wrote: "My religion is
Christianity".  They failed the exam and had to re-take it, but again
insisted on writing these single phrases.

It is worth noting that this case is just an example of the same problem
facing hundreds of Christian mothers and their children who are caught in
this dilemma!!!

Voice of the Copts
Dott. Arch.Ashraf Ramelah,
Associate AIA

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