Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has appointed a Christian, Judge Boulos Fahmy Eskandar, as President of the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC).
Judge Boulos, 65, is the first ever Christian to be appointed to the position, which effectively makes him Egypt’s highest judge.
The appointment of a Christian to such a high position of authority is rare in a Muslim-majority country, and demonstrates the courage of President al-Sisi’s support for religious equality and freedom.
In Islamic contexts it is not expected that Christians will rise to such positions of political or legal authority.
Judge Boulos had previously served as one of the vice-presidents of the SCC, and as President of the Cairo Court of Cassation.
The SCC is Egypt’s highest court, and is independent of both the Egyptian president and parliament.
The court has the role of interpreting Egypt’s laws and regulations and deciding whether they are constitutional.
Judges appointed to the SCC serve until their mandatory retirement age of 70.
Christians, who make up 10% of the population of Egypt, say that their situation in the Muslim-majority country is now better than it has been in living memory.
President al-Sisi has been quick to give verbal and practical support to the Christian community whenever anti-Christian incidents occur and his government is working steadily to legalise churches following the repeal of Ottoman-era restrictions in September 2016. Al-Azhar University now controls most of the mosques so that the extremist Muslim Brotherhood has become much less influential.