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Zakzouk supports calls to equate women to men in court testimonies
Published in Daily News Egypt on 14 - 03 - 2008

CAIRO: Minister of Religious Endowment Mahmoud Hamdy Zakzouk, announced his full support for a request from Zeinab Radwan, deputy speaker of the People's Assembly (PA) and member of the National Council for Women, to amend court regulations that would allow one woman's testimony to be equivalent to that of a man.
Speaking at a press conference in the Ministry of Religious Endowment, Zakzouk said that there is no "religious prohibition for women to become equal to men in court testimonies and that the court judges should agree to accept one woman's testimony to replace a man's testimony.
He added that the current situation in Egyptian courts, which demand the testimony of two women to match that of one man, should not be applicable to all cases. He said that the Quran makes this stipulation only in relation to testimonies regarding financial matters.
"The Quran stated that the two women's testimonies are needed in the place of one man's testimony in financial matters. But scholars turned this into a general rule in all court cases, Zakzouk said.
Radwan's proposal also included another request to bring the inheritance rights of non-Muslim women married to Muslim men in line with those of Muslim wives. Currently, non-Muslim wives are not entitled the same inheritance rights as Muslim wives. Zakzouk promised to put her proposal to the Islamic Research Center to study.
However, Sheikh Mohmoud Ashour, former deputy for Al Azhar and member of the Islamic Research Center, told Daily News Egypt that the Ministry of Religious Endowments did not refer to Al-Azhar before issuing this statement.
Ashour refused to give his opinion on the proposals themselves when questioned by Daily News Egypt.
Radwan's argument is based on the fact that women during the early ages of Islam were ignorant of society's political and economic matters, while now the situation is different.
However Mahmoud Amer, an MP affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, objected to Radwan's suggestion when it was debated in the PA on the grounds that "it contradicts the [teachings] of the Holy Quran . these are God's orders, which we must follow and cannot disagree with.
This is not the first time that Zakzouk has offered his opinion on religious matters normally dealt with by Al-Azhar and the Islamic Research Center.
Last year, the minister expelled an employee wearing the niqab from a meeting at the ministry, reflecting his open opposition to the full face veil.

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