Egyptian Christians concerned at Islamist domination

January 9, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia, Persecution

An anti-Morsi rally outside the Presidential Palace in CairoEgypt, January 07, 2012: The resignation of a Christian appointed to Egypt’s upper house of parliament has highlighted the concerns of Christians following the passage of an Islamist-backed constitution that threatens the rights of minorities.

Nadia Henry quit the Shura Council on 27 December, just one day after the Islamist-dominated chamber assumed legislative authority under the new constitution. She said that liberal and other minority groups were not properly represented. In an open letter published by the state-owned al-Ahram newspaper, Ms Henry wrote:

I agreed to the membership of the Shura Council in the context of consensus that stressed all civil forces will get appointed. Since that did not happen, I hope you accept my apology for not accepting the appointment.

The Shura Council will hold legislative power until a new parliament is elected in early 2013. Muslim Brotherhood opponents fear that it will issue laws that curb freedoms, following the passage of a contentious constitution that was opposed by secular liberals and Christians.

The code, which many fear paves the way forEgypt to become an Islamic state, was approved last month with 64% of the vote; turnout was low at just 33%, and there were accusations of fraud.

The constitution sparked major protests in the run-up to the vote. There are objections to the expansion of Article 2, which concerns the place of sharia in Egyptian law; clerics have been given an undefined role in ensuring that legislation complies with its tenets. And there has also been criticism from human rights groups about restrictions to gender equality.

Complaints about the constitution feed into wider concerns about the tightening of the Islamist grip on the country. President Morsi has gradually removed checks on his power, leading to accusations that he has become the country’s new dictator.

In an indication of the Brotherhood’s agenda, its de facto spiritual leader Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi has said:

Islam is a comprehensive school of thought, a creed, an ideology, and cannot be completely satisfied but by [completely] controlling society and directing all aspects of life, from how to enter the toilet to the construction of the state.

How quickly and to what extent the Brotherhood applies this philosophy remains to be seen, but Christians and secular liberals are extremely concerned about the direction in which the country is heading.

Youssef Sidhom, editor of the Christian Watani newspaper, said:

[Christians] are quite concerned and I cannot hide that a few wouldn’t hesitate to leave if they have the chance. There is a vast area of mistrust that lies between Christians and all factions of political Islam.

– barnabas team

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