16. Copts and local administrations… the test for the civil state

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Article summary: 

Kamāl Zākhir stresses the importance of

enhancing the principles of the civil state in Egypt.

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Three incidents in which local administrations and the church

were involved took place over the last few months. In Alexandria it was said that Pope Shenouda abstained from delivering

his weekly sermon there because he is angry with the governor of Alexandria who ordered the demolishing of buildings

belonging to the church. In Qinā, its bishop declared his anger with its governor [a Copt] for his obstinate refusal

to issue a decision to restore a church which is about to fall down. In Miniā, the inhabiants of the village of Dayr

Abū Hinnis sit in in a protest against the governor’s decision to change the village’s name to Wādī al-

The crisis of Minia was resolved through legitimate channels when the governor

issued a decision to restore the old name. However, the incidents of Alexandria and Qinā are left to the reactions of

the conflicting parties, which may result in negative results that cannot be dealt with.
The author believes that

what happens is the result of the contradictions and double standards that have dominated the political and social scenes

in Egypt. The first article of the constitution states that Egypt is a civil state whereas the interpretations of the

second article lead it to be a religious state. Article 40 states that all citizens are equal, and hence, it is

competence that determines the assumption of public positions, whereas in reality qualified Copts are excluded from

public offices. Allocating a certain quota for Copts in parliament is rejected on the basis that quota is against

democracy while constitutional and legal outlets were found to endorse a quota for women. It is said that judges should

abide by written laws only while some judges rule according to some rulings in sharī‘ah justifying

this by the second article of the constitution, although experts in constitutional matters say this article addresses

legislators and not judges. On the other hand, Copts call for the separation between politics and religion but denounce

the governor of Qinā for not havingever met with the pope nor enjoying his confidence..
The author calls upon

enlightened Muslims and Copts to start enhancing the principles of civil society. He stresses that the problems of Copts

are not confined to the questions of church-buildingor assumption of public office, but through consolidating and

implementing the principles of the civil state in every aspect of life.

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