Cairo’s highest civil court on Saturday ruled that 12 Christians who had converted to Islam could return to their original church, ending a bitter yearlong battle over identity and minority rights.
It was the second time in recent months that a court has upheld the rights of religious minorities, in a country that is 90 percent Muslim and where the distinction between civil law and religious principles is increasingly blurred.
The case involved Coptic Christians who had converted to Islam to obtain a divorce. The Coptic Orthodox Church does not allow dissolving a marriage. Islamic law, however, allows men to end a marriage easily.
For a time, Christians who converted in order to divorce were allowed by the courts to formally return to their original faith. But in recent years, as a more conservative sentiment has spread throughout the country and the government, the courts have not allowed converts to return to Christianity.