(photo credit: AP)
An Egyptian attorney has won a suit calling for the implementation of an old law stripping the citizenship from Egyptians married to Israelis and from their children. It is not clear, however, if the ruling will be implemented.
The case underlines the deep animosity many Egyptians still hold toward Israelis, despite a peace treaty signed between the two countries 30 years ago.
The court's decision Tuesday also scores a point for Egyptian hard-liners who have long resisted any improvement in ties with Israel since the signing of the 1979 peace treaty.
Lawyer Nabih el-Wahsh, who petitioned the court to implement a law predating the treaty, told The Associated Press the ruling was a "triumph of Egyptian patriotism."
El-Wahsh had demanded the court force the Interior Ministry, which deals with citizenship documents, to implement the 1976 article of the citizenship law revoking the citizenship of Egyptians who married Israelis who have served in the army or embrace Zionism as an ideology.
The court said the measure would "avert potential damage to the country's national security," the state news agency reported, but it was unclear how the ruling could be enforced or to how many Egyptians it would apply.
El-Wahsh claimed there are about 30,000 Egyptians married to Israelis - whether Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs or Palestinians with Israeli passports - with possibly "tens of thousands of children by now."
The Egyptian government has not released any figures. The Egyptian consulate in Israel said the issue was too sensitive to comment on, while Israeli officials could not be reached for comment.
An Interior Ministry official in Cairo, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, said Egypt doesn't have specific figures because most of the Egyptians in question live in Israel.
The official added that he believed el-Wahsh's numbers are "exaggerated."
There is no indication that the Interior Ministry will adhere to the court's decision, but el-Wahsh said he would pursue the case and sue the interior minister for contempt of court if there was no action.
El-Wahsh has gained notoriety in Egypt for an incessant stream of lawsuits over morality and patriotism against movie directors, screenwriters and even Queen Elizabeth II and Saddam Hussein. Most were thrown out.
In 2005, former Grand Mufti Nasr Farid Wasel issued a religious edict, or fatwa, saying Muslim Egyptians may not marry Israeli nationals, "whether Arab, Muslim, or Christian." The possibility of a Jewish spouse was not mentioned.
Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, the Grand Sheikh of Cairo's Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's premier institution and oldest university, has said that while marriage between an Egyptian man and an Israeli woman is not religiously forbidden, the government has the right to strip the man of his citizenship for marrying a woman from "an enemy state."