20. Bishop Bissenti: the Muslim who sees the country torturing his Christian neighbor for building a church will most probably deal with him as a second class citizen

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Bishop Bissenti sheds light on some of the problems facing Copts inside Egypt and asks for applying the principle of citizenship which is mentioned in the Constitution.

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Bishop Bissenti was interviewed by al-Dustūr
Why does the country believe that expatriate Copts, who are the source of their annoyance, are a tool in the hands of the church to put pressure on it?
Pope Shenouda III Patriarch of Alexandria and the See of St. Mark said during his meeting with the former Egyptian President al-Sādāt that expatriate Copts read in Egyptian newspapers about the problems facing Copts inside Egypt […] hence, the pope believes that if the government wants the expatriate Copts to stop blaming it, it should take Copts’ problems within Egypt into consideration.
What do you say to those who belittle Copts’ problems or even claim that they do not have problems at all?
Those who claim that there are no problems facing the Copts have not studied the issue sufficiently because there are problems and at the head of them is the problem of building churches and not taking the suggestion about issuing a common law for building houses of worship either mosques or churches into due consideration. Being Christian Egyptians, we hope that building churches will be as easy as building a mosque […] especially as the first article in the Egyptian Constitution reinforces the principle of equality in citizenship.
And does including the word citizenship in the Constitution mean that the country is on the verge of solving all the problems of the Copts?
I really want to thank our President Mubārak for placing the principle of citizenship at the head of the Constitution. However, we want it to be activated and put into application especially in the field of employment […] where citizenship is not applied.
The statistics about the number of Copts are always controversial as the government says there are eight million while the statements of some churchmen indicate that there are 15 million … so do you have an approximate number?
There are no less than twelve million Copts in Egypt […]
[For more about the number of Copts in Egypt see AWR 2008, week 52, article 17]
What do you think about the campaign of nominating the pope for the Nobel Peace Prize?
Pope Shenouda III definitely deserves such a prize for everything that he has done for the sake of peace.
What do Pope Shenouda and the Holy Synod ask for in the letters they send to President Mubārak?
In his letters to President Mubārak Pope Shenouda does not ask for anything except for Copts’ rights.

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