Coptic Solidarity Demands Drafting New Constitution in Egypt

WASHINGTON, July 23, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The new Egyptian leadership issued on July 8 a constitutional declaration to govern the country during the transitional period. Coptic Solidarity is concerned with various components of this declaration and the clear Salafist influence on the process.

Not only was the Salafist Al-Nour party able to block nominations of two prime ministers and (for being a woman) a minister of culture, but they also pressured the transitional government into maintaining a narrow Islamic basis for governing. The State religion is Islam and sharia law, under a Taliban-like definition, is the main basis for all jurisprudence. Freedom of belief is denoted to "protected" rather than "absolute." Freedom of "worship" is limited to the three Abrahamic religions while, in practice, is quite restricted for all but Islam.

The declaration allows for political parties with religious-reference, which in reality means Islamist parties only (a "Christian" party would be considered "proselytizing" hence forbidden), and transforms political debate into one of believers vs. nonbelievers. It further includes clauses that appear to grant rights, such as freedom of expression and assembly, but in fact achieve the opposite, by relegating to the law how to practice these rights.

In sum, the declaration has retained several formulations that simply do not pass the minimum threshold of credibility for a modern constitution. The declaration is only temporary (until the constitution written by Morsi's regime in 2012 gets revised within a few months). However, there are justifiable concerns that temporary things have a tendency of becoming permanent, suggesting these formulations risk becoming even harder to amend, given the prominence the Salafists are gaining.

When millions of Egyptians took to the streets on June 30, they demonstrated an unexpected political maturity by unveiling Morsi's regime as totalitarian manipulator of religion. We, hence:

  • Invite the international community to speak out clearly in support of the Egyptian people and its right to protect their country against the return of a failed and totalitarian regime.
  • Call upon the leaders of the transitional period to seize upon this historic opportunity and draft a new constitution worthy of the people's aspirations. This charter, which must separate religion from politics, is crucial for the future of Egypt.
  • Ask the US and the international community to provide support and accountability to the transitional government to draft a new constitution, which upholds modern state values and democratic principles. This constitution should provide equal protection to all Egyptians and should not allow discrimination or preferential treatment based on religion, ethnicity, or gender.

Foreign Aid to Egypt by the international community must be used as an incentive to promote - through benchmarking measures - positive change towards establishing a system that respects its citizens in full equality, and must benefit the people directly.

Coptic Solidarity is non-profit organization dedicated to leading efforts to achieve equal citizenship for the Copts in Egypt.

CONTACT: Hal Meawad 240-644-5153 info@copticsolidarity.orgSource: Coptic Solidarity