Egypt has been under Muslim control since the Islamic invasion under Amr ibn Al-‘As in 639, and certainly since the fall of the ancient world, she has been a majority “Muslim” nation, albeit with a large Christian bloc that in current times accounts for approximate 10% of her population.
As a result of Islamic influence, naturally, the laws have reflected this. While the power of Islam in the public sphere has changed throughout the ages, its force has always been felt there and can be felt in modern times.
One of the ways that it shows itself is through the court system, which in the case of dividing assets, directly favors male relatives over female ones. As such, a brother would be legally entitled to more than his sister, and so forth. Because of the relative popularity of Islam and in addition to cultural influences (as one cannot solely attribute this system to Islam, since it long existed before), this has been the standard practice for a long time.
However, there have been significant changes taking place in the Middle East, largely driven by the power struggles between the US and USSR in the region that have toppled governments repeatedly in the area since 2000, and while revolutions are not new to the Middle East, the American influence and her ability to propagate contemporary ideas with greater speed, to a fuller end, and with a more permanent effect is unprecedented in world history, including in the Middle East.
There are several ways that one can observe these changes, the most obvious one being the rise of the sodomites, for while the practice is well-documented in the Middle East in the past and there is a well-known public resistance to it from most people, this attitude is changing, for especially in nations such as Tunisia, sodomite activity is being accepted at historically unprecedented rates. Likewise, even very “strict” Muslim nations such as Saudi Arabia have experienced significant increases in women demanding “rights” a-la those made by western feminists except attuned to their context (such as increased rights for driving, etc.) and speaking out more loudly than ever before online.
It is not to say that certain changes are all bad, especially if it involves legalized mistreatment. However, what one should come away with is that the cultural zeitgeist in the region is changing, largely due to external influence, and it is starting to show itself in society.
According to a report from Egypt, Huda Nasrallah, a Coptic Christian woman sued he brothers in court because she said that she has a “right” to the same share of her father’s inheritance as her brothers. After a year of fighting, the Egyptian courts ruled in her favor, and this comes at a time when in addition, two other judges in cases involving similar disputes with Muslim families in Egypt have seen the judges rule to the contrary in support of Egypt’s current inheritance law.
The Associated Press reported last week that when Nasrallah presented her case to a higher court she based her argument around a Coptic Christian doctrine that calls for an inheritance to be distributed equally.
On Tuesday, Nasrallah told AP that she is “thrilled” by the verdict and hopes it will serve as an encouragement to women in her country. (source)
This is a very significant victory because it breaks with the current state of the law and could be used to help establish, if not now than in the future, a new legal precedent for inheritance rights and in so doing to undermine not just the current law, but also the influence of Islam in the nations, and was already criticized by scholars at the famed Al-Azhar University.
According to Texas Tech University law professor Gerry W. Beyer, recent cases and sentiment on the issue in Egypt did not bode well for Nasrallah. Additionally, leaders at Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, regarded as the most prominent Sunni religious institution in Egypt, have rejected equal inheritance proposals.
“Religious freedom” is used by the US government to advance her geopolitical goals. One might call this act a form of “corrupting to rule” not in that one should not oppose evil beliefs such as Islam, but that the US insistence on “religious freedom” is not about promoting the good will of others, but undermining the currently established religion of a given society in order that by taking power from them, an unspoken third religion is formed in the name of “submitting” disagreements to national authority and in so doing, elevating the place of the state over that of religion. When this happens, it brings to a level the churches under state control, and if they can be controlled by the state, and then the state is controlled or heavily influenced by another government- such as the US selling most of this government’s food to them and demanding policy changes or else no more food -then one can control nations.
It was not without surprise then that various institutes in the US supporting religious freedom were pleased with the decision.
Samuel Tadros, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom in Washington, D.C., called the decision a “significant development” in a Twitter thread, but stressed that “only time will tell about its scope.”
“On the other hand, we still don’t have the court’s reasoning,” Tadros, the author of Motherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity, added. “In Hoda’s case, there was no contest. Her brothers joined her in her demand. So if the court simply found no objection and hence ruled in her favor, the case’s scope would be very limited.”.
The Coptic Church has been caught in this as Christian women have said that the Church has been “overlooking the inheritance issue” as far as women’s concerns have been raised about it. Likewise, this case is about more than financial inheritance, because a granting of a kind of equal rights statues could significantly impact issues such as divorce and family adoptions. The case is significant because not only was it a legal victory for her, but the only victory by a Coptic woman in a court against the inheritance laws, to which she noted that it was not about “inheritance”, but a rights issue.
“It is not really about inheritance, my father did not leave us millions of Egyptian pounds,” she told AP at the time. “I have the right to ask to be treated equally as my brothers.”
Could this court case be a sign of things to come? It might be, and it will be something to watch for the future as to other social changes to see if Egypt, at least to some extent, starts to make significant changes to her social and family structure along the lines of those in the west with major consequences for the future.