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Egypt MPs disagree on status of Coptic Christians in draft elections law
ICC Note:
With proponents on either side, the government of Egypt is trying to decide whether or not to reserve a “Christian seat” in the parliament. Some say that it should be adopted to ensure representation of Christians, who are a small percentage of the country. Countries such as Lebanon, Syria and Jordan do this. However opponents of this “Christian seat” argue that it will only serve to “deepen divides between Muslims and Christians.”
01/06/13 Egypt (AO) – Members of the committee for legislative and constitutional affairs in Egypt’s Shura Council (the upper, consultative house of parliament) voiced disagreement in a Sunday session over the legal status of Coptic Christians in a proposed elections law.
MP Mamdouh Ramzy, appointed to the Shura Council by President Mohamed Morsi last month, suggested that Egypt implement the “Christian seat” model – as do Jordan, Lebanon and Syria – in the proposed legislation.
Ramzy said that the system was utilised in the Arab world, in which the percentage of Christians is fairly small in relation to total national populations.
He pointed out the improbability of Egyptian Copts winning seats in parliamentary polls. Therefore, according to Ramzy, having a seat set aside for Christian candidates in each party’s candidate list would allow for at least one Coptic representative in each constituency.
MP Osama Fikry of the Salafist Nour Party disagreed with Ramzy, however, saying that this system would only serve to “deepen divides between Muslims and Christians.”
Fikry called for leaving the issue up to the public to decide at the ballot box and to not impose the system on Egyptian political parties.
MP Ramy Lakah, for his part, a Christian businessman, rejected the notion that certain parties – such as the Free Egyptians and others – act as “custodians to the Copts.”
There should be Coptic members of parliament chosen by both Egypt’s Muslims and Christians, according to Lakah. He added that the minimum number of Coptic representatives should be set by the parties themselves.

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