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Egyptian Copt will advise Morsi on country’s Christians

by
07 September 2012

AP

New wave: President Mohammed Morsi greets photographers as he leaves the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, on Wednesday

New wave: President Mohammed Morsi greets photographers as he leaves the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, on Wednesday

A PROMINENT Egyptian Copt, Samir Morcos, who has been appointed one of President Mohammed Morsi's four special advisers (News, 31 August), has said that he will strive to ensure that Christians remain integrated within the Muslim-dominated society. Mr Morcos, a Christian intellectual, is the President's adviser on democratic transformation.

He told an Egyptian newspaper that he was "from the school of thought that calls for reassuring the Christians through providing security and reassurance to Egyptians in general. We should ensure the citizenship rights for all, and provide justice for all."

Mr Morcos added that providing special privileges to protect Christians would be counter-productive, because "the one who gives a privilege today can withdraw it tomorrow. But if it is given to all, then it will become the rule that no one can withdraw it, and it will become a right for all Egyptian citizens."

As a result, he said, he would not demand special rights for Christians: "My file is much broader than the issue of the Copts, which I view as a narrow issue. I am carrying out a public service for the sake of God and the homeland." He said he hated "the religious classification of Egyptians as Muslims and Christians, and I do not want to be referred to in a religious way, particularly since the Christian issue and the problems of the Christians in Egypt are only one part of many concerns, which include all the woes of the homeland."

Of the other three presidential advisers, two are Islamists (one from the Muslim Brotherhood, and one from the Salafist al-Nour party), and one is a female academic. The advisers will be assisted by a team of 17 consultants, with Islamists being the dominant group represented in the 21-member team.

There is a second Christian, Rafiq Habib, among the consultants, but he lacks popularity within his own community because of his close links with the Muslim Brotherhood, and his official position within the latter's political party.

Despite President Morsi's attempts at minority representation in his advisory body, its composition has drawn criticism from Copts and Muslims who fear that the government and key institutions are falling into the hands of Islamists. There are concerns that the new constitution could impose restrictions on civil liberties and freedom of speech.

A publisher, Muhammed Hashem, described the Islamists' discourse as "very racist and discriminatory. They dismiss those who don't support them as atheists. We won't accept that. We want a real social contract."

Also feeling marginalised are the revolutionaries who led the uprising that ousted the Mubarak regime. "We revolted against the authoritarian rule of one dominant political party," a young Egyptian told a Cairo newspaper, "but there is still a certain regime trying to control power unilaterally."

 

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