Egypt’s Public Prosecution Gives Temporary Custody to Baby Shenouda’s Adoptive Family

Egypt’s Public Prosecution Grants Temporary Custody to Adoptive Family of Baby Shenouda

Egypt’s public prosecution ordered the return of five-year-old Shenouda to his Christian adoptive parents in temporary custody on Tuesday, March 29, after fatwa (religious edition) by the country’s Grand Mufti, the government’s first and foremost source of religious authority.

Shenouda is to be returned to his adoptive mother, Amal Ibrahim, who has been instructed by the prosecution to complete all legal fostering procedures to finalize her full custody. Shenouda was previously placed in an orphanage, renamed Youssef, and assigned the Islamic faith after the court refused to rule on custody for his family.

Al-Azhar International Fatwa Center, the online platform for Al-Azhar’s religious edicts, recently said that in case a child was found by a non-Muslim, he should follow the faith of those who found him; thus indicating that Shenouda is still a Christian, according to the religion of those who received him.

The Islamic faith is assigned by default to children who have no known lineage within the country, according to the Department of Civil Status in the Ministry of the Interior.

The order of the Public Prosecution follows the decision of an administrative court in Egypt to refrain from ruling on whether the adoptive family of the child Shenouda can keep him due to its lack of jurisdiction on the matter. As a result of this decision he remained in state custody on 19 March.

After being denied custody, Shenouda’s family intended to make another appeal to the court. The Ministry of Social Solidarity, which oversees the fostering of children without known parents, was instructed to review the couple’s application to take custody of the child.

Over the past year, the ‘Baby Shenouda’ case has sparked controversy throughout Egypt. A Coptic Christian couple found the baby inside a Cairo church five years ago, when he was only a few days old and took him in, raising him as their own.

Egyptian authorities took custody of Shenouda when DNA tests, carried out as a result of a family dispute over inheritance, showed he was not biologically related to the couple.

Under Shari’a law, adoption is not permitted. It’s about nurturing a child, though. In 2021, Egypt’s Ministry of Social Solidarity implemented a decree giving foster parents the right to add their names to a foster child’s birth certificate.

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