During the “Human Rights in Egypt: Between Hopes and Reality” seminar, various activists said that religious freedom is every person’s right and called for the establishment of a set of rules to ensure de facto equality, suggesting that school curriculum be updated to plant religious tolerance in children.
Head of the Egyptian Initiative for Human Rights, Husām Bahjat, said that article eighteen of the constitution states that each person has complete freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, and that the state should recognize this freedom by issuing a unified law for building places of worship. Bahjat also pointed out the rise in sectarian violence in the past three years to 52 cases in seventeen governorates, some of which were committed by the authorities.
Hamdī al-Asyūtī and ‘Imād Thomas confirmed Bahjat’s claims, with the latter presenting a historical overview of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Father Sa‘īd Ibrāhīm said that he has managed to issue permits for 40 churches since the 1970's and one must only follow the law and required procedures to do so. The seminar’s closing speech was given by Lebanon Christian Charles Mālik, who praised the Egyptian constitution and called for it to be followed.
Secular Coptic leader Kamāl Zākhir said that the solution is through establishing a true secular state.