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Christian Egyptian Government Employees Granted Paid Leave for Jerusalem Pilgrimage

The Supreme Constitutional Court has just ruled that a law granting Muslim civil servants paid leave to perform pilgrimage while denying Christians the same privilege is unconstitutional.

Egyptian Coptic civil servants can now take paid leave to perform pilgrimage like their Muslim peers, in what constitutes a momentous victory for civil rights in Egypt. This comes after the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled on Sunday that Article 71 of Law 47/1978, by which Muslim civil servants are granted paid leave to perform Hajj in Mecca, is unconstitutional, reports Ahram Online.

The ruling is also a victory for Naguib Gabriel, the lawyer who set out to challenge the constitutionality of said law three years ago, according to Daily News Egypt. “The ruling is a major step towards full citizenship rights for Egyptian Christians,” he told Ahram Online. 

Gabriel, however, said that the ruling is unlikely to lead many Christian Egyptians to travel to Jerusalem for the purpose of carrying out the religious rite due to the Orthodox Church's ban which dates back to 1980 when Pope Shenouda III forbade the community from travelling to the contested territory in protest against the Israeli occupation.