In their attempt to make political gains to help them in the Shūrá (Consultative) Council elections, members of the Muslim Brotherhood are stretching out bridges of dialogue and friendliness with Copts. The Brotherhood is inviting the Coptic Orthodox Church for dialogue, although the outlawed group’s history is abundant in sectarian practices and sentiments against the Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood’s platform in the Shura elections has included phrases like “Egyptians – Muslims and Christians – are making one society and one integrated entity within the national fabric under equality in all rights and duties without any distinction in accordance with the principles of Islam.”
This platform emerged after a blueprint by the Brotherhood was revealed and spoke about the Group’s attempts to normalize relations between it and the Church by more exchanged visits and discussions to settle bones of contention that have to do with the application of the sharī‘a (Islamic law), construction of churches, da‘wa (call) in Islam and missionary activities in Christianity.
Dr. ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Barr, a member of the group’s Irshād (guidance) Office, said the group is keen to deny the Brotherhood’s vision of the Copts as a “minority” and seize any chance to appear in photos with archbishops and monks, which happened recently when a photo was leaked depicting the Murshid (Guide), Muhammad Badī‘, with Archbishop Ghubryāl of Beni Suef to congratulate him over the Coptic Eastern Christmas last January.
An online call had been launched by Majdī ‘Āshūr, a member of the Brotherhood’s parliamentary bloc, during the past ‘Īd al-Fitr [the three-day Muslim festival that follows the holy fasting month of Ramadān] in which he called on the Egyptian government to “open channels of serious and wise dialogue” with the Coptic community.
The call, however, was not coincidental or unplanned. It acted as a prelude to the Brotherhood’s propaganda to open channels of contact with Copts and gain popular sympathy, as well as attract the intelligentsia prior to and during the Upper House elections.
The call was never perceived as one of personal initiative. It only reveals a fresh episode in a series of non-stop attempts by the banned group to win Coptic favor.
Dr. ‘Abd Sattār al-Milījī, former member of the Brotherhood’s Shura Council, in his book titled Tajrubatī Ma‘a al-Ikhwān (My Experience with the Brotherhood), has said that the Brotherhood’s call is only an attempt to “fish in troubled waters and drive a wedge between the state and an important category within the national fabric in Egypt”.