CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court on Wednesday temporarily suspended a court order forcing the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church to allow Coptic divorcees to remarry.
In May, the country’s High Administrative Court upheld a ruling that said two divorced Coptic men could take new wives despite church rules that limit remarriage to certain cases, such as when adultery is involved.
The case provoked fierce resistance from Pope Shenouda, the leader of Egypt’s Copts, and complaints that the court was undermining the Church’s ability to keep sway over its flock in Muslim-majority Egypt.
Farouq Sultan, the head of the constitutional court, ordered that the administrative court’s ruling be suspended until a final decision was reached on a claim filed by Shenouda.
The Coptic leader said the administrative court’s decision contradicted a 2008 criminal court ruling which dismissed a case brought against Shenouda by a divorcee angered that he had been prevented from remarrying.
The Constitutional Court could take years to make a final decision on the claim, legal sources said.
Christians, mostly Orthodox Copts, make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 78 million people. Many Christians grumble about discrimination, although some Christians have risen to ministerial rank or are top business executives.