Saturday, April 10, 2010
The Solution For The Coptic Situation
7 April 2010 in Featured Blogumnist, Morris Sadek
Today, I will talk about some of the problems facing the Coptic Christian community in Egypt and the best methods that should be followed to solve them.
1- According to Egyptian law, the construction of churches – unlike mosques – requires formal government approval. Christian communities face undue bureaucratic obstacles when trying to build or renovate their places of worship, while efforts to build mosques face little if any official obstruction. The Egyptian law has to pass laws to facilitate the procedures of building churches in Egypt. We have the unified worship places law in the drawers of the Egyptian parliament. Why does this law pass now?
2- Mr. Mubarak also ignores the systematic abduction and forced Islamization of Coptic girls in Egypt, which has bocame a frequent, dangerous and a rapidly escalating phenomenon. The problem was brought to light by Coptic Pope Shenouda III as far back as December 17th, 1976, when he protested during a conference held in Alexandria that “there is pressure being practiced to convert Coptic girls to embrace Islam and marry them under terror of Muslim husbands” and demanded that the abducted girls be brought back to their families. Copts want an end to forced conversion of Christian girls by having the Ministry of Homeland security (what we call in Egypt the Minister of Interior) to issue an order to its police personnel not to protect the Muslim kidnappers while returning these girls back to their families.
3- Mr. Mubarak allows Muslims converting to Christianity to face extreme hardships and torture by the State Security apparatus. The numbers of Muslims who dare to convert to Christianity do it in secrecy. That is because the penalty for leaving Islam is death in all schools of Sharia (Islamic law). Former Egyptian Muslims are put to death by their own families and the Egyptian police for exercising their basic human rights to choose their own religion. We want all Egyptian citizens to have the freedom of belief, including the freedom to change one’s religion. The government must issue a law allowing Muslims to be free to convert to Christianity, if they so chose.
4- Copts do not have any religious programs on the national TV to educate non-Christians about Coptic Christianity and assist in promoting the concept of pluralism and religious tolerance. Copts want equal air time on the National TV.
5- Copts have many confiscated lands. The lands were seized by the Ministry of Islamic affairs. The president must issue a presidential decree to have the church’s trust lands returned.
6- The Egyptian Government still issues ID cards with religious identity. A law must be enacted to abolish this practice. We want religious affiliation to be removed from national ID cards, job applications, etc. … so Christians could not be identified and discriminated against.
7- Qur’anic verses insulting Christians are taught in all of the educational curriculum. The Minister of education has to revise the curriculum and guarantee that they do not contain any Qur’anic verses that might have denigrating references to Christians or Christianity.
8- Very few Christians are appointed to jobs in the security agencies and public service or other government officials. The constitution must be amended to add a 10 percent quota for Copts in all governmental positions, including the security agencies such as the state security division and the general intelligence agency.
9- Private and public newspapers like Al-Ahram and Al-Gomhuria contained articles promoting hate campaigns against Christians and Pope Shenouda. The ministry of information must issue a resolution ordering these newspapers to refrain from attacking Pope Shenouda and disseminate wrong information about the church.
11- Copts are killed in Sanabu 1992, al Qusia 1996, Al Kusheh 2000, Alaxndria 2005, Dairot 2009 and none of the Muslim killers were punished. The Egyptian criminal code should be amended to enhance the punishment concerning hate crimes and crimes occurred because of religious identity.
12- Villages of Copts are burned by Muslim fundamentalists in the north and south of Egypt. However, the government does not arrest the perpetrators or pay any compensation to those people whose houses were destroyed. Every governor has to order the rebuilding and renovation of the destroyed houses on the expense of the State.
13- The ruling national party failed to appoint any Copts in its list of candidates in the parliamentary elections. The Egyptian government must create a quota for the Copts inside the Egytian People’s Assembly. The government has already designated 40 seats for women. Why they do not adopt the same approach when it comes to Copts.
15- Copts are tortured and humiliated inside police stations and by the policemen. In 1998, 1,100 Copts were tortured by 4 police officers in Al Kusheh, Sohag. None of these officers was punished. I receive many emails from Copts who are beaten and sexually assaulted in the police station by Muslim police officers. Lately, a women and her daughter sent me a video testimony on how they were tortured and sexually assaulted in one of the police stations in Cairo. The Minster of interior must act immediately and issue a resolution providing for the punishment of any police officers who practice torture.
16- There is no Copt appointed as a dean or a president of an Egyptian University. The ministry of higher education must adopt a policy that aims at ending all forms of religious discrimination that is common at all of the Egyptian academic institutions.
17- There is no mention of Coptic history in the history curriculum. Muslims and Christian students in high school and middle school must be aware of the fact that Egypt was all Christian for almost 400 years before the Islamic invaders entered Egypt. The Ministry of Education must amend this curriculum by adding the Coptic history, language, and culture to be taught in schools and colleges.
Finally, I would like to say that Copts must be united in order to face these problems. As long as we work and cooperate together, our enemies will never overcome us.