31. Coptic intellectuals and clergymen: There is room for everyone in Egypt

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There might be some fears and concerns after the political Islam groups grabbed the lion's share of votes in the first parliamentary elections after the January 25 revolution that unseated the regime of former President Husnī Mubārak from power after nearly three decades.

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These legitimate concerns by the Copts must be dispelled by the orientations and actions of the Islamist camp, be it Muslim Brotherhood members or Salafīs, although the chance is still available to make a balance in the upcoming parliament that should be representative of all groups in the Egyptian society.

Kamāl Zākhir Mūsá, the coordinator of the laymen front in Egypt, said that the figures from the first round of the elections did not show the Islamists have disturbingly or alarmingly won the voting.

"In the end we're governed by the constitutional declaration because Egypt is still under the presidential, not parliamentary, system," said Mūsá.

He noted that a civil state is not exclusively Coptic demand but rather the demand of enlightened intellectual Muslims who do not belong to any Islamist groups, adding a civil state would have room for everyone and can contain all of the political and religious mosaic.

Qummus Salīb Mattá Sawirus, a member of the Millī Council and Father of the Mar Girgis Church in Shubrā, said what Copts need is a civil state where modernity, citizenship, equality and fairness away from any religious or ethnic discrimination prevail.

Bishop Bisanti of Helwan and al-Ma'sarah said piety can never be imposed by force because it simply emanates from within each man's heart based on their religious culture, affirming that Copts should not fear power under Islamists because Copts have always been capable of coexisting throughout 14 centuries.

Dr. Akram Lam'ī, the official spokesman for the Coptic Evangelical Church, said if there is going to be a civil state under a Muslim majority then this state must be regulated by controls, including the need to have a presidential, not a parliamentary, system.

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