Copts take the plunge
ICC NOTE: Coptic and Muslim secularists have urged, at a recent Cairo meeting, to eliminate the constitutional article, which states that the Islamic law (Sharia) is the main source of legislation in Egypt .
By Ramadan Al Sherbini
3/10/07 Egypt For the full article (Gulf News.com) As Egypt is debating constitutional changes, touted as the largest in decades, Coptic Christians, who make up an estimated 10 million of the country’s 75 million population, are pushing for wider political representation.
“Representation of Copts in Egypt ‘s assemblies has been narrow since 1924,” said Samir Morocos, a Coptic researcher. He told a recent seminar in Cairo that political parties should field Coptic candidates for Parliament.
Very few Copts won seats in the 2005 parliamentary elections in which the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned-but-tolerated group, collected 88 seats in the 454-member legislature. In an apparent bid to allay fears of Christians about Islamists’ prominence, President Hosni Mubarak has appointed five Christians among ten MPs, a right given to him by the law.
“Allocating a quota for Christians in the Parliament might have been necessary under the individual candidacy system. But now there is almost a consensus that replacing this system with the proportional slate system will give Copts the chance for bigger representation,” Yousuf Sedhoum, editor of the Copts’ mouthpiece Watani, told Gulf News.
Acknowledging that Christians are not systematically discriminated against in Egypt , Sedhoum, however, accused the ruling National Democratic Party of “marginalising” them. “There are no Muslim-Christian tensions in daily life in Egypt . Still, Christians are not allowed to hold top posts,” he said.
Coptic and Muslim secularists have urged, at a recent Cairo meeting, scrapping of a constitutional article, which states that the Islamic law (Sharia) is the main source of legislation in Egypt .
Coptic thinker Jamal Assad blames Christians for being politically isolated and worried about the emergence of an Islamic theology in Egypt . “The Muslim Brotherhood took to the street to establish their political clout, while others sat on the fence,” he said. “Instead of feeling afraid, Christians should be actively engaged in politics. The ruling party has to strengthen secular opposition so that the arena will not be left only for the Brotherhood.