Let Christians adopt, Egypt baby trial lawyer says

Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:29am EDT
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* Lawyer calls for law allowing Christians to adopt in Egypt

* Lawyer says his clients may not face a fair trial

By Cynthia Johnston

CAIRO (Reuters) - A lawyer for a U.S. couple jailed in Egypt in an adoption case said Egypt should pass a law allowing Christian families to adopt, because a legal gap that disallows the practice is pushing them to do so in secret.

The lawyer, whose clients are in jail on fraud charges as their trial proceeds, also said he believed Egyptian authorities were seeking to warn the country's Christian minority that they could not adopt in Egypt, even through informal channels.

"I think that the first criminal in this case is the state," lawyer Nagiub Gobraiel told Reuters in an interview.

He said Islamic restrictions on adoption were preventing Christians from adopting children born to Christian parents in Egypt, and urged authorities to put a law in place "for Christians to adopt."

"The wife is Christian, the husband is Christian and the child or the children are Christians," he said. "I think that the state is pushing us to commit a crime."

There is no legal mechanism for families -- Christian or Muslim -- to adopt children in Egypt, and Egyptians rarely gain legal guardianship of children not born to their families because of social, religious and legal strictures.   Continued...