With the new Egyptian government attempting to maintain stability and extend rights to religious minorities, several bumps have emerged. As el-Sisi takes control of the government, many are looking to how he will incorporate more rights to Christians. This lack of trust in the Egyptian government resurfaced however, when his predecessor made comments regarding the Pact of Omar which established conditions for the Christian church to exist in Egypt. This comment disturbed local Christians as the conditions don’t really increase their right of religion.
By: Raymond Ibrahim
6/15/14 Egypt (Christian Post) – Overlooked in the midst of all the celebrations in Egypt concerning the presidential victory of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, his predecessor, President Adly Mansour-who very much shares in Sisi’s worldview and politics-made a strange comment about the place of the nation’s Christian minority, the Copts. (Sisi installed Mansour as acting president of Egypt on July 4, 2013, after ousting former President Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood party during the June 30 Revolution, which was supported by the Coptic Church.)
In a televised speech delivered a few days ago, Mansour addressed the Copts in a very inclusive way, one much welcomed and appreciated by Egypt’s Christians. Among other things, he indicated that they were equal citizens, “brothers” to the Muslims; that they have been an integral part of Egypt’s history; that both Copts and Muslims are victims of and enemies to “terrorism” (a reference to the Brotherhood and other Islamist organizations).
Then he said:
I speak to you [Copts] today through the true spirit of Islam-the spirit whose values appeared in the Pact of Omar, wherein the righteous Caliph, Omar bin al-Khattab, made a covenant with the Christians of Jerusalem, after Medina opened [conquered] it in the year 638; the Pact which preserved for the Christians their churches, monasteries, and crosses, and their religion and possessions. Egypt again renews the spirit of this pact and its principles with you; Egypt, the Muslim state, which takes from the values and principles of the tolerant and true Islamic Sharia for its legislation.
To those familiar with the actual text of the Pact of Omar-also known as the shurut, or “the conditions,” of Omar-the above speech is a strange contradiction. After all, whereas Koran 9:29 provides divine sanction to fight the “People of the Book” (namely, Christians and Jews) “until they pay the jizya [monetary tribute] with willing submission and feel themselves subdued,” the Conditions of Omar lay out in detail how Christians are to feel themselves subdued.
Below are excerpts from the Conditions (see Crucified Again for my complete translation and historical discussion of the text). The conquered Christians appear to be speaking and agree: