In a historic decision, Egypt appointed its first-ever Coptic Christian as head judge of the Supreme Constitutional Court.
On Wednesday, February 9th, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi swore in Judge Boulos Fahmy Eskandar, replacing Judge Saeed Marie who retired due to poor health. As head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Eskandar will be responsible for assessing the constitutionality of laws. The Supreme Constitutional Court is the most powerful court in Egypt, independent of both the president and parliament with a history of ruling against exclusionary laws.
Eskandar had served in 2010 and 2014 as the Supreme Constitutional Court’s vice-president and was picked by el-Sisi from a pool of 5 other judges. At the age of 65, Eskandar will serve on the Supreme Constitutional Court for four years.
While Eskandar’s appointment is unlikely to immediately alleviate the persecution of Egypt’s Christians in their communities, it is a historic decision that strengthens the presence of Christians in high-ranking government positions where they are under-represented. USCIRF stated in its 2020 report on Egypt that there was a pervasive “a lack of opportunities for non-Muslims to work in key areas of government service.”
In Egypt, Christians are viewed by many Muslims as second-class citizens and are often barred from holding jobs in prominent positions, such as playing on Egypt’s national soccer team or working in academia, because they fail to meet requirements that could only be met by Muslims.
Eskandar’s appointment is a small step towards normalizing religious pluralism in Egypt and chips away at the perception that Christians are second-class citizens.
President of the National Council for Human Rights in Egypt, Moushira Khattab, said in a statement that Eskandar’s appointment was “a giant step in the field of civil and political rights, as it consolidates the full enjoyment by every Egyptian of their rights away from any kind of discrimination.”
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Image: “Egyptian Presidency Media Office via AP”
Acquired from an article by The Hill titled “Egypt Swears in first-ever Coptic Christian to head country’s high court.”