In Egypt, especially in Upper Egypt , disputes between Muslims and Christians are dealt with not in civil courts but in tribal councils. The judgments of these councils seem to favor the side that is the most influential or powerful and seem in many cases to violate the Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Christians facing displacement or paying large sums of restitution.
Malak Adeab, who suffers from the effects of polio, cannot forget the day in December 2014 when police came to arrest his 40-year-old wife, Nadia Aziz . “I was devastated and crying behind the door,” he said, “laying helpless on the floor unable to move,”
Adeab’s wife and others were arrested following a violent outbreak between Muslims and Christians in the village of Kom AR Rahib. She was released after a few hours, but Muslims in the village accused her of hitting young Fadheal Abdulsataar in the head with a stone and demanded a customary Reconciliation Council session.
“The council fined me 30,000 pounds (US $1,800 ),” said Adeab, 45. “I was bullied because of my weakness.” He had only 5,000 (29 US$) at the time, he said, so “my nephew paid the rest to my opponent.”
The experience of the Adeab family is similar to that of dozens of others who have found that the councils are biased against Christians and inflict harsh penalties, all in the presence of law enforcement representatives who attend their sessions, as documented by the investigation. The verdicts – and there is no right to appeal them – can include forced displacement and selling off of private property, and the imposition of huge financial compensation.
This investigation found that half of the Christian families who submitted to council authority ended up displaced.
Malak disability testimony
customary council verdict against Malak
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and the Maspero Institute for Development and Human Rights found that one-quarter of 70 judgments over the last seven years to resolve disputes on sectarian grounds ruled for the forcible displacement of Christian families under the pretext of defusing friction and community discord. The two non-government organizations recorded 140 deaths during 184 violent incidents between Muslims and Christians from 2011 to 2018.
Causes of Sectarian Strife between Christians and Muslims in Egypt
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