Monday, January 18, 2010

Sectarianism and other untold stories

Never ever fear a nation which examines its actions, and refuses to buck in disclosing its faults and sins. Never ever expect any good from a nation which arrogantly insists on continuing with its mistakes and denying the obvious truth.

Yes, we have a Coptic problem! No one can deny that the crisis of confidence in relationships is the result of many historical and modern accumulations of the problem. Some of them happened by chance and some others were purposefully committed by bad intentions.

We have to confess this unfortunate reality, in order to reach the right diagnosis of the problem and put a clear vision for a remedy. Facing the problem with silence, as usual, is like conspiring to tolerate the crime, which threatens the unity and safety of our homeland. Apathy will only lead us to the painful bottom of agony.

It is our turn now to try clarifying the facts of the crisis and specify its real features and causes.

First: the relationship between sectarian tension and public tension in Egypt. Actually, most of the problems described as “Coptic” are mainly Egyptian problems that are doubled on the Copts. One of them, for instance, is the bitter feeling of the absence of justice, civil rights and equality.

Second: we have a Coptic problem related to media and education. In media, I refuse the demand of some groups to give a special immunity to Copts as much as we refuse using sectarian language in media discourse and the absence of tolerance and the culture of political and religious multiplicity.

On education, school curriculum is still incapable of understanding the real mission of education in enhancing the culture of citizenship and human rights. On his first day in office, the new Minister of Education ordered removing the training programs of human rights and citizenship from school curricula. Moreover, the current curricula are missing proper presentations of Coptic civilization, which continued for more than six centuries in Egypt. Coptic history is an essential part of our civilization; we cannot just ignore or marginalize it in our schools. This would weaken the relationship between citizens to a large degree of their inherited culture!

Third: the overwhelming feeling of injustice for Copts is the result of several factors; e.g. depriving them from occupying certain positions in state in an offensive manner. They are not valued for their patriotism or qualifications. They are classified as second degree citizens, especially in regard to leadership and political positions. Some security apparatuses do not hire Copts at all, like the State Security Bureau.

Fourth: the need for the immediate abolition of the “Hamayouni” manuscript issued in February 1856 by the Sublime Porte, as well as bizarre conditions issued by Major-General Mohamed El-Ezaby Pasha, Minister of Interior, in February 1934 regarding building churches. They should be changed into building a unified law for houses of worship in Egypt in accordance with article 46 of the Constitution, which stipulates citizens’ equal right to practicing religious rituals.

Fifth: The need to issue a number of important legislation to face the reasons behind the sectarian tensions. One of these legislation should provide a penalty for religious discrimination or disdaining religions. Another legislation should handle the personal affairs of Copts. Nevertheless, creating a unified law for building houses of worship. In addition, a new electoral system based on the proportional list should be established in order to give better chances for Copts, women, youth, and other minorities for equal representation in municipal councils, Parliament and the Shura Council.

These are some of the few proposals for the solution of this crisis!

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