When I read this Agence France Presse story, I almost wondered if it was satire.
A Cairo court on Saturday upheld a ruling to strip Egyptian men married to Israeli women of their citizenship in a case that has highlighted national sentiment towards Israel.
Judge Mohammed al-Husseini, sitting on the Supreme Administrative Court, said the interior ministry must ask the cabinet to take the necessary steps to strip Egyptian men married to Israeli women, and their children, of their citizenship.
But apparently it’s true. I have American friends who live or have lived in Egypt and they are always telling me how unbelievably different the culture is from the United States. Stripping citizenship, though? The story has a lot of details, including the fact that Egyptian men married to Israeli women who are Arab will not lose their citizenship.
So, does any of this have anything at all to do with religion? You think? Maybe?
Apparently not. There is no mention of religion in the entire AFP story. So that settles that.
Apparently the dislike of Israel has not one thing to do with the fact that Egypt is a Muslim country and Israel is a Jewish country. According to the story, the court was motivated solely by its view that Israel has acted poorly on various foreign and domestic issues.
The Associated Press actually included some discussion of religion in its story:
In 2005, former Grand Mufti Nasr Farid Wasel issued a religious edict, or fatwa, saying Muslim Egyptians may not marry Israeli nationals, “whether Arab, Muslim, or Christian.” The possibility of a Jewish spouse was not mentioned.
Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, the late Grand Sheik of Cairo’s Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s premier institution and oldest university, has said that while marriage between an Egyptian man and an Israeli woman is not religiously forbidden, the government has the right to strip the man of his citizenship for marrying a woman from “an enemy state.”
And that inclusion of information makes the story much better, even though it’s half as long as the AFP story.
UPDATE: A reader notes another missing element from these stories. In Egypt, Coptic Christians are forbidden from marrying Muslim women. So what, exactly, are the marriage laws in most Muslim countries and what are they in Israel? The answers are important and interesting.