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Sectarian conflict and family law in contemporary Egypt



Egypt continues to experience interreligious sectarian conflict between Muslims and Copts since the overthrow of the Mubarak regime. The same factors that had contributed to escalating violence between the two communities continue to be at play in postrevolutionary Egypt. One of the key sites of sectarian conflict is interreligious marriage and conversion, an issue that ignites the passion and ire of both communities. While issues of sexuality and gender are at the center of these conflicts, religion-based family law plays a particularly pernicious role. In this essay, I rethink the nexus between family law, gender, and sectarian conflict through an examination of both the history of the emergence of Egyptian family law and the simultaneous relegation of religion and sexuality to the private sphere in the modern period. [sectarianism, Copts, Islam, state, family law, sexuality]