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24. Wednesday Press Review: An Autonomous Coptic State?

Citation
Article title: 
An Autonomous Coptic State?
Year: 
2011
Week: 
2
Article number: 
24
Date of source: 
January 12, 2011
Author: 
Diana Māhir Ghālī
Text
Article summary: 

On Wednesday, Coptic reaction to the church bombing was once again a primary focus for Egyptian editorialists. This time, much of the coverage focused on statements by some expatriate Coptic organizations and leaders who have called for a Coptic Christian state to be established in Egypt....

 

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Opinion on an Autonomous Coptic State

 

In al-Maydān, Husām ‘Abd al-Hakam criticizes the attempts by various Coptic associations to form an autonomous, internationally recognized Coptic nation. The article reports that National Coptic Assembly President Maurice Sādiq, Coptic Foundation leader ‘Ismat Zaqlamah, al-Rajā’ (Hope) television personality Nabīl Bisādah, and Coptic Youth Association leader ‘Īliyā Bāsīlī have formed an association of 100 Coptic individuals that wishes to function as an autonomous Coptic country inside Egypt.

 

The report claims that the association will function independently from the central government. The entity will possess special courts with Coptic judges who will implement French law, as well as criminal courts that will implement international law. The association also calls for a Coptic police force, parallel Coptic versions of Egyptian government ministries, and Coptic schools and colleges that teach the Coptic language.

 

According to al-Hakam, the association also demands the appointment of Coptic ambassadors to the Vatican and the acceptance of international aid without censorship from the government. While both the Coptic entity and the Egyptian government would control the army, the current government will only be allowed to administrate Muslim affairs.

 

However, al-Hakam finds more sense in the solutions of Najīb Jabrā’īl Mīkhā’īl, head of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights.

 

Jabrā’īl suggests issuing a law that bans religious discrimination in employment and sensitive governmental positions. He says this would help create a healthy environment that can encourage Coptic involvement in political life.

 

Secondly, he recommends the omission of the religious section from the national identification card, start a national discussion regarding the freedom of religious conversions, and the issuance of a unified law for building worship places, as well as a law to better deal with sectarian violence.

 

Thirdly, Jabrā’īl suggests reviewing and purifying school curriculum, saying that not only should history books be updated to include Coptic history, but also that new books should be written that emphasize the shared values, doctrines, and achievements of Christianity and Islam.

 

Fourthly, he says that anyone who disrespects a particular religion should be transferred to the criminal court. In this regard, he calls for the establishment of special courts and prosecution offices that specialize in sectarian violence and religious disrespect, as well as for the amendment of laws and criminal procedures that deal with such cases.

 

Fifth, Jabrā’īl proposes that any girl who converts to Islam should be immediately revealed and granted freedom of religion apart from the influence of security apparatuses. He also says that anyone who converts to Christianity should not be pursued by police or prevented from traveling. Finally, he calls for the prevention of any religious conversions before the age of 21.

 

Lastly, he proposes the omission of any religious slogans by governmental institutions and official documents and says that Easter and ‘īd al-Nayrūz (beginning of new Coptic year) should be considered official holidays.

 

“Copts have the right to be saddened,” says Qalyubiya governor ‘Ādilī Husayn in al-Maydān, “but they need to know that Egypt is a Muslim country not a Christian one.” However, Husayn insists, “We'll never be against Copts’ expression of their rights.”

 

On a similar note, ‘Abd Allāh Kamāl, Editor in Chief of Rose al-Yūsuf, writes that there will not be a unified law for building places of worship, saying that the “community is not yet ready for that.” Furthermore, he calls on churches to reconsider the role of places of worship, saying that churches should offer nothing more than prayers and sermons, thereby avoiding political involvement. “We are all Egyptians, so we go to the mosque and the church to pray and worship God,” says Kamāl, “Then we go out to practice the rest of life’s requirements and mix together far from any polarization.”

 

 

Opinion on Alleged Torture Death of Sayyid Bilāl

 

In other matters, Hasan Nāf’ah relates the story of Sayyid Bilāl, Salafī who some claim was tortured to death by police investigating the Alexandria church attack. Nāf’ah condemns what he sees as society’s lack of concern for the man, along with the wife and toddler that he left behind.

 

According to the report, Bilāl received a call on Christmas Eve morning from a national security officer, who demanded that Bilāl come to the state security office in Alexandria.

 

The next morning his family received a phone call from the hospital saying that Bilāl died after two unknown men ditched him in front of the hospital and fled. Bilāl’s family complained to the Ministry of Interior, saying that his body showed obvious signs of torture. Security insisted that Bilāl’s body be buried immediately and it is not known whether an autopsy was carried out, according to press reports that quote the man’s family.

 

 

Opinion on Alexandria Church Investigation and Aftermath

 

In other news Munīr ‘Adīb interviewed ‘Amr Khālid, who announced the launch of a new initiative called “Fitnah-free internet” that calls for purifying the Internet from fitnah incitement. The initiative was developed in light of the Alexandria church attack and is targeting two million Muslim and Christian young people.

 

Manāl ‘Abd al-’āl writes that independent investigators have revealed that the explosion was caused by a highly flammable substance called C4, which is also used in Iraq. Some speculate that the substance is available in the U.S. Army and that Iraqis can buy it from American mercenary soldiers “who are definitely Jews,” as she puts it.

 

The article also mentions a website that shows how to produce C4 and how to convert it into an explosive that can be controlled remotely. ‘Abd al-’āl suggests that the substance was brought to Egypt by Jews who recently came to celebrate Mawlid Abū Hasīrah, a deceased Jewish Egyptian rabbi.

 

A report made by Nadīyah Subhī and Nadīyah Mutāwī’ in al-Wafd contains many opinions about national unity and citizenship. Worth mentioning is that the al-Wafd Party is organizing a national unity conference on Thursday to support the unity of Egyptian citizens.

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