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Egypt Recognizes Right of Muslim Converts to Return to Former Faith

An Egyptian court has ruled the government must recognize the right of Christians who had converted to Islam to return to their old faith.

The Supreme Administrative Court ruled Saturday in the case of 12 former Coptic Christians. After converting to Islam, they had been prevented from returning to Christianity on the grounds that Islamic law would consider it an abandonment of the faith.

The Associated Press quotes an attorney Mamdouh Naklah for the Christians as saying the ruling is a victory for human rights and freedom of religion in Egypt.

Human rights groups complained last year that converts from Islam were not allowed to change their religious affiliation on official identity cards.

Egyptian law is largely secular, but personal status issues such as marriage, divorce and conversion are governed by a person's religious community.

Egypt is predominantly Muslim but has a sizable Christian community.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.