Gjesteskribent

En gruppe kristne som var blitt muslimer ville rekonvertere til kristendommen, men fikk ikke lov. Den øverste administrative domstol har sagt at de kan få lov, men at det må komme en lov mot å «leke» med religion. Det kan undergrave samfunnet.

Konvertering og frafall er sensitive temaer i alle muslimske land, men er særlig aktuelt i Egypt hvor det bor en stor koptisk befolkning som går helt tilbake til de første kristne menigheter.

De kristne lever under press, og det kan tenkes mange grunner til at folk omvender seg. Det er de selvsagt velkomne til, det har sogar vært flere tilfeller av tvangsomvendelser. Men rekonverteringer er vanskeligere, da den tradisjonelle sunni-oppfatningen er at frafall – riddah – straffes med døden.

I desember 2005 anla konvertittene sak mot innenriksdepartementet som nektet å forandre feltet for «religion» i ID-papirene.

Egypt har to elementer som til sammen blir til en renneløkke for minoriteter: sharia er øverste autoritet for lovgivningen, og det at et menneskes religion vises i ID-papirene. Risikoen for diskriminering er dermed stor.

Den første domsavsigelsen i april i år nektet de omvendte å rekonvertere og anklaget dem for å være murtadd – frafalne.

Den øverste administrative domstol behandlet saken to måneder senere og kom med en mer sofistikert dom: Gruppen har rett til å få den kategori de ønsker i religionsfeltet. Hva folk tror er en privatsak. Men ikke hvis konverteringer truer samfunnets stabilitet. Domstolen ønsker seg en lov mot å «leke» med religion.

Dette er den offisielle linjen: det er religionsfrihet i Egypt, men hensynet til samfunnets stabilitet går foran individet.

Den første domsavsigelsen i april går også inn på rene religiøse argumenter når den sier at man står fritt til å velge islam, men vel innenfor er man bundet av islams lover, og de forbyr frafall, m.a.o en enveiskjørt gate.

Another explanation presented by the court ruling was: «The laws of Islam, to which anyone who joins it agrees, forbid someone born a Muslim, or someone who [begins] to believe in Islam [at some point in his life] of his own free will, to rebel against Islam and to move to any other religion… Anyone who leaves his Christian religion in order not to return to it and enters the religion of Islam entirely of his own free will and without coercion is committed to its laws and principles, including not harboring any intentions to deny Islam or to leave it afterwards… Islam does not permit anyone who enters it of his own free will to leave it… for the sake of a particular aim or to change his religion as the wind changes direction…»(5)

Det er interessant å lese utdrag fra debatten. Stormuften, Ali Gumah, sier det står enhver fritt å velge religion, og siterer de kjente Koran-vers om dette, et standpunkt han også nevnte i en debatt i Washington Post. Men så sier han at hvis det undergraver samfunnsmoralen må konversjoner eller frafall behandles av en domstol.

Et medlem av Akademiet for islamsk forskning ved Al-Azhar, sier at man ikke kan tillate frafall i en situasjon der islam blir angrepet. Han kaller de frafalne for spioner.

Dr. Abd Al-Mu’ati Bayoumi, member of the Academy for Islamic Research at Al-Azhar, explained that a Christian who converted to Islam and wanted to revert to Christianity was a threat to society, and that the judicial system was obligated to bring him to trial. In an article in the Egyptian government weekly Al-Misawar, Bayoumi wrote: «In an era of actual clash [between] civilizations, of rivalry between ideologies that harms the sanctity of the beliefs and of the religions and does not shun any means of buying supporters with bribes, incitement against the holy places, and abandoning the homeland, the murtadd should be treated in accordance with [the extent of] the danger he poses to the public order and to society… He must pass a strict test as to whether he endangers society and is likely to spark civil war. If he [does indeed] constitute the head of the arrow in inciting civil war, he must be treated according to Islamic religious law, and the safety of the national community must be protected – because in such a case the murtadd is like anyone spying for the enemy…
«[The plaintiffs’] abandonment of Christianity means that the Christian faith did not give them spiritual wholeness and internal [tranquility]. Also, their turning to Islam and then leaving it means that Islam did not give them spiritual wholeness and [emotional] security. Thus, they are restless, abnormal individuals… [and] their insistence on returning to Christianity is illogical… They need therapy more than they need a change to their [identity] card.

Sammenblandingen av religion og stat gjør at myndigheter og religiøse autoriteter kan spille på begge strenger etter behov.

Den koptiske kirke ser dobbeltspillet, det samme gjør menneskerettighetsorganisasjoner og intellektuelle, som vil ha fjernet religion fra ID-kortene.

The bishop of the Coptic community in the Al-Ma’adi district said that the ruling contravened democracy as well as human and civil rights. He added: «This ruling muddies the close Muslim-Copt relations. [Why] does this freedom go only one way? When a citizen chooses Islam, everything goes easily, while the opposite [action] is called riddah…» He said that this logic was against the principle of tolerance in which Islam took such pride, and called for real change in the laws so that they would be compatible with the international conventions to which Egypt was a signatory.
Coptic intellectual Dr. Wasim Al-Sisi said that Egypt would gain nothing from this ruling, except for defamation abroad. He called for changing Article 2 of the Egyptian constitution, which states that shari’a is the primary source of legislation in Egypt, and proposed that the laws of all the monotheistic religions be considered additional sources of legislation.
..
Criticism of the ruling came also from Egypt’s human rights organization. The Egyptians Against Discrimination organization even called for abolishing the «religion» entry in the national identity card altogether. In a communiqué addressed to the People’s Council, the Egyptian government, and the civil society organizations, 150 Egyptian intellectuals called for at least making the «religion» entry in the national identity card optional. The communiqué stated that in light of the rise in the number of rulings prohibiting Egyptian citizens from having their religion noted on personal documents, a national committee should be established for examining Egyptian laws that harm Egyptian citizens’ right to choose their own religion. These rulings, it noted, were unconstitutional, since the constitution prohibits discrimination among citizens and assures freedom of belief and worship for all.(13)

Situasjonen i Egypt og mange andre muslimske land er at minoriteter blir de som fremstår som forkjempere for større religiøs frihet. Av den etablerte islam blir dette tolket som at deres religion er under angrep.

Sammenblandingen av religion og stat gjør at denne konflikten oppstår. Ved å innføre begrepet om «undergravende» konversjoner har den egyptiske domstolen sørget for å videreføre denne ulykksalige koblingen.

Egyptian Court in Controversial Ruling: Christians Who Convert to Islam Cannot Convert Back