Anti-religious discrimination group targeted at Journalists’ Syndicate
“Christians, although this is against the constitution, are actively prevented from promotion in every field of state work; in the presidential guard, the national security, the high courts and defense. They pay equal taxes, but are shown no equality by what I call a fascist and wahabbist state,”
By Michaela Singer
05/15/2008 Egypt (The Free Copts)-The first conference organized by the group Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination (MARED) got off to a tense start on Friday, after facing a fierce confrontation by a group of ‘fundamentalist’ journalists.
Conference organizers and attendees arrived at the Journalists’ Syndicate at 9 am on Friday. They found that the doors were locked, and that a group of journalists, led by syndicate committee member Gamal Abdel Rahim, had barricaded themselves in the building.
“The journalists had spent the night in the Syndicate to prepare for our arrival,” Nadir Shokry, media spokesperson for MARED, told Daily News Egypt . “We tried to discuss the situation with them, telling them that we had a prior booking, but they started shouting us down, chanting slogans and calling us a ‘conference for Bahais, Christians and Zionists.’”
“The streets outside the Syndicate were strange on Friday. Usually when something controversial is held, there is a high security presence,” Mohamed Mounir, president of MARED, told Daily News Egypt . “Yesterday there was very little. When we phoned the police, it took them an hour to arrive, despite the fact the police station is a little less than five minutes away.”
Other organizers noticed the absence of intervention by the Syndicate’s Freedoms Committee. The committee is chaired by Mohamed Abdel Qouddous, who is known to for his Muslim Brotherhood affiliations.
“Gamal Abdel Rahiem made irrational and fantastical accusations that we invited an Israeli television channel to cover the conference. They are from O TV, which is owned by [Naguib] Sawiris.”
Despite unexpected hurdles, the two day conference, after a bumpy start, went ahead.
Despite a majority of Christian, Bahai’s and enlightened Muslims, the conference also saw religious Islamic thinkers have their say, causing more than a slight ruckus in the audience. “There is no discrimination in Egypt ,” announced Islamic thinker, legal activist and salafist Hamid Sadiq Sayid.
Other conference goers blamed the Egyptian state for actively implementing religious discrimination. “Christians, although this is against the constitution, are actively prevented from promotion in every field of state work; in the presidential guard, the national security, the high courts and defense. They pay equal taxes, but are shown no equality by what I call a fascist and wahabbist state,” said Mamdouh Ramzy Esnasios, lawyer and Coptic activist.