Ibrāhīm Hilāl, professor of old Egyptian law at the University of Paris, continues his talk in this interview about the Coptic situation in Egypt. Hilāl gives a brief historical of his family and states that his grandfathers participated in the establishment of modern Egypt in the days of Muhammad Alī. Alī appointed Muslims, Christians and Jews to high offices because he wanted to build a new modern state, regardless their religious background. Hilāl points out that he was the youngest student in both Egypt and France to obtain a law license. His participation in politics traces back to his early days, during school and university. After his graduation he practiced law as a lawyer. His aim was always to travel abroad in order to continue his study in France, but the government perpetually denied him a passport until the defeat of 1967. [Editor: Israel’s defeat of the Egyptian military after the Six-Day War] He states that his arrest on the eve of the 1967 defeat was his refusal to accompany President ‘Abd al-Nāsir to Asyut, as a tool for the regime to press on foreign countries. He states that he refused to be head of the Egyptian delegation to the UN in 1962, and his establishment of the Coptic Ummah group was to support Egypt against foreign occupation.
In the same context, Hilāl talked about his scientific achievements and states that he is first Egyptian professor to be appointed at the University of Paris to teach the old Egyptian law. He asserts that he has more of a moral and academic dignity in France than in Egypt, although he rejected both the French and American nationalities because he is proud of his Egyptian nationality. Concerning the Coptic affair, he believes that the Copts entered a critical turn after the 1952 revolution, especially after the nationalization of companies and factories, where Copts controlled 75% of the Egyptian economy. He blames the state’s policy for encouraging sectarianism. He believes that changing the educational curricula and separating religion from the state will make an obvious difference.