Political rights activists rally public support for protection of religious minorities
CAIRO: Following the mob attacks on Alexandria’s St. George’s Coptic Church last year, Dr. Mounir Megahed, general manager of feasibility studies at the Nuclear Power Plants Authority and a few of his colleagues decided to take action against attacks on religious minorities in Egypt.
In an effort to support the country’s Christian minority, Megahed issued a declaration called “Muslims Against Discrimination, which was signed by over 200 Muslims in April 2006.
Shortly thereafter, the same group decided to form Misriyoun Against Religious Discrimination (Mared) a cross-cultural public movement with the mission of combating religious discrimination among the general public in Egypt.
“You cannot spur democratic change in a country unless you win the hearts and the minds of the people. The general public needs to be pressured to change their mindsets through ideas communicated through media and education, Megahed told The Daily Star Egypt.
“The current corruption of the mass media in Egypt breeds religious hatred. How can religious discrimination be overcome when radicals spread their religious opinions on tapes that are played in minibuses all over Cairo? he sighs.
More than 300 people, including Christians, Muslims, Jews, and followers of the Baha’i faith signed the Mared founding charter a few months ago.
Megahed also points out that it is important to emphasize that the majority of Mared’s members are not politically affiliated individuals, but regular people from the general public who are dedicated to combating religious discrimination in their country.
While the founding members of the movement are politically oriented individuals, the current members range from housewives and students to activists, businessmen, and political analysts.
“We want to demonstrate through our diverse membership that Mared, which means ‘giant’ in Arabic, is a group that welcomes all members of the Egyptian society no matter what religion, culture or background you come from, he said.
The movement held its first meeting just weeks ago in which the official agenda and structure of the organization was discussed.
In an effort to provide internal structure to the organization, six working groups were created, including a research studies group, an investigative group that researches cases involving religious discrimination, a communication and mass-media unit that advocates their mission to press and media, as well as an informatics division.
Mared currently has a mailing list of more than 500 people and the movement is planning several upcoming meetings and actions.