Once again, the issue of the child Shenouda raises public opinion in Egypt after Al-Azhar issued an official fatwa confirming that the religion of the child of unknown parentage becomes the religion of the one who found him, and therefore the religion of the child Shenouda must return to Christianity as it was before, and it is the same religion as his father, Farouk Fawzi, and his wife, Amal Michael, who They found him nearly 5 years ago inside a church in northern Cairo, according to their claim.
And as soon as Al-Azhar’s fatwa spread on social media platforms, these platforms flared up with conflicting opinions about how to determine the child’s religion and the legality of his parents’ position, amid some sympathy for the parents and others accusing them of the illegality of what they had done, and even criminalizing what they did with the child.
The case of the child, Shenouda, opens a thorny file on the issue of adoption and change of religion in Egypt, an issue that has always sparked controversy.
what’s the story
The story of the child Shenouda raised public opinion in Egypt months ago after he was found inside a church as a child and was raised by a Coptic family, but after four years he was placed in an orphanage according to the current system in Egypt, as Egyptian law considers any child of unknown parents a “natural Muslim.” .
And the story began when the Christian couple found the child at the door of the “Virgin Mother of Light” church in northern Cairo – according to their claim – at the age of days, and decided to adopt him after consulting those interested in the church, as they did not have children.
The couple named the child “Shenouda Farouk Fawzi,” and they lived with him as one family for four years, before the husband’s niece filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor’s Office to challenge the child’s attribution to the foster family, as she said that the child was kidnapped by the couple, not their son.
After the couple and the child underwent a DNA analysis, and it was already proven that he was not biologically related to them, the Egyptian Public Prosecutor’s Office decided to place him in an orphanage as “unqualified” and change his name to “Youssef”. The prosecution did not take any action against the couple.
According to the child’s mother, she registered the child in her husband’s name and her name in an official birth certificate, after she mentioned that he was her son, adding that she did not know that she had violated any laws, and said, “I only know that I raised the child for four years in my arms with all love.”
Deposit Shenouda in a nursing home
The Egyptian authorities seized the child by a court ruling issued a year ago, and placed him in a care home, after not finding his family, and issued a new birth certificate with a new quartet name, Yusuf, and a new religion, which is Islam.
Attorney Naguib Gabriel, who is Mrs. Amal’s lawyer, told the BBC that the action taken by the Egyptian authorities is not correct, because whoever is found in a “dhimmis” place of worship becomes a Christian by extension. child from this family.
For his part, Hisham al-Qadi, a lawyer at the High Appeal Court and the State Council, says that children of unknown parentage who are found anywhere are placed in a nursing home, and according to the law they become Muslims. The church used to allow adoption to Christian families before Pope Shenouda, the former patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, changed the regulations to include Under the Egyptian Personal Status Law in 2008.
Administrative Court ruling
After six months of deliberations, the Administrative Judicial Court in Egypt decided to declare that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case known in the media as “the case of the Shenouda child,” after sessions that lasted more than 6 Months during which she listened to the parties to the case, especially the adoptive child’s family.
Al-Azhar enters the crisis line
Al-Azhar did not directly intervene in the case, but it published on its official page the Fatwa Center an answer to a question inquiring about the religion of the child who was found inside a church. Al-Azhar’s answer was that the child’s religion is for the one who found him to resolve the jurisprudential controversy about the religion of children of unknown parentage without specifically mentioning the child Shenouda.
ignition communication Web-sites
Social media caught fire with the comments of tweeters calling for the return of the child Shenouda to his parents. Simon Sami led a campaign through social media platforms to support the parents of the child Shenouda, calling for the return of the child to his parents who supervised his upbringing for a period of 4 years.
Tweeters also demanded that the child be viewed with compassion.
Hamdi considered that the damages that occurred to the child if he converted to Islam would be greater than the benefits of his remaining in his first religion.
While some of the tweeters questioned the testimony of the woman who submitted the communication, who is a relative of Shenouda’s adoptive parents, wondering why she submitted a report now, nearly five years after the birth of the child?
While tweeters opposed the return of the child, Shenouda, to his family, stressing that it had not taken the legal steps from the beginning in the adoption procedures, one tweeter wrote that it is not right for a family to adopt any child just because it found him. He must be handed over to the police and then start taking legal steps.
Imad al-Athari justified the support of some of them for not returning the child to his parents, claiming that if a child was born of unknown parentage, he is by nature a Muslim, while it is not permissible to adopt him to a non-Muslim family in the first place.
Rudy said that the legal problem with the child’s family is that they falsified his parentage papers, which indicate that he is their son, not adopted.
Sam denounced what happened, stressing that there is no country in the world where children can be attributed to a family without any legal basis.
A third team thinks about the future of the young child when he becomes a young man and knows the details of what happened to him when he was young.
Hani Ishaq wished that the child would find his family, whatever their religion, and that every sinner who caused harm to this child would be punished.
adoption in Egypt
The law in Egypt defines the frameworks for taking children of unknown parentage from care homes. The law defines the matter as sponsoring an orphan child, not adoption, according to Islamic law on which the Egyptian constitution is based. The Ministry of Solidarity for the validity of sponsorship for any family.
The Ministry of Social Solidarity takes into account that the family situation is suitable for sponsorship, as it is not possible for a man or woman who lives alone to sponsor a child, and the history and reputation of the family that applies for sponsorship is searched, and a field follow-up is done for the sponsored children.
Adoption among Christians
Adoption, in its broad sense of ascribing a child to an alternative family name, is not a problem for Christians and was in practice until the seventies of the last century, according to the 1838 regulation regulating the personal status laws of the Coptic Orthodox.
One of the articles of the regulation permitted adoption, according to conditions that Christians described as impossible. However, the Egyptian state continued to allow it until 1996, when Child Law No. 12 was issued, which completely banned adoption.
The issue of adoption among Christian churches was met with different opinions, although the 2014 constitution, which is currently in force, provides for Christians to resort to their laws.
The Evangelical Church alone presented a complete chapter on adoption and inheritance in the regulations of the Unified Personal Status Law, while the Catholic Church followed the same approach as the Orthodox, and did not include adoption in its proposals, as it violates the general system of the state.
At the end of 2014, the three churches submitted a proposal for a draft law on the personal status of Christians to the Ministry of Transitional Justice. The ministry prepared a final draft of the draft and sent it to the churches again for an opinion on it. However, the final draft was devoid of a full chapter on regulating the right of adoption.
At that time, the Orthodox Church did not object to the deletion of the article on adoption, “due to the Church’s unwillingness to clash with the constitution.” The churches affirmed at the time that they “welcome the stability of the state, at the expense of its interests, and will leave what is related to the civil laws of the state.”