CAIRO (AP) — The head of the Egyptian Coptic Church threatened to excommunicate priests who perform second marriages after a court ruled that divorced Copts could remarry.

Pope Shenouda III strongly condemned the verdict, which he said goes against the Bible. He said priests who perform these marriages, along with those requesting to remarry, will not be allowed to enter the church again as they are considered "deviants." He explained only those divorced on grounds of adultery can remarry.

"The issue of remarriage for those divorced is a specifically religious matter that only the Bible can dictate," Shenouda said Tuesday.

Shenouda warned that this ruling, which has sparked anger in the Coptic community, endangers the church's relations with the state and could alienate Copts. Islam is the dominant religion of Egypt. Copts make up less than 10 percent of the population and they often feel underrepresented.

According to Al-Ahram, a state-owned newspaper, judges of the Higher Administrative Court defended the ruling, which was issued last month, stating that it was passed in accordance with the Egyptian constitution, which gives every citizen the right to start a family.

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