Religious discrimination against Egypt's Christians debated at seminar

Alexandra Sandels
2 Min Read

CAIRO: Christian activists, representatives from the Muslim Brotherhood, social researchers, and official spokesmen for the Center for Socialist Studies gathered last week to debate whether the rise of political Islam in Egypt has triggered a sectarian polarization of religious groups.

The meeting also addressed whether Christians are the only religious minority facing discrimination, and how religious discrimination as a general phenomenon should be dealt with in Egypt.

Numerous seminar participants including Gamel Soudki, a leftist researcher, and Ahmed Diab, from the Muslim Brotherhood, stress the importance for Egyptian Christians and Muslims to set their religious differences apart and stand together as Egyptians in order to fight religious discrimination in their country.

“The national government is practicing tons of discrimination, not only towards Christians, but towards a variety of different religious and political groups. In order to pressure the authorities and our government, we need to come together as ‘Egyptian nationals’ and not as ‘Muslims’ or ‘Christians’, Diab argued.

Yehija Feji of the Center for Socialist Studies urged the establishment of a strong democratic movement against all sorts of religious discrimination in Egypt.

“The resistance and demonstrations against religious oppression need to come from the people within the country. Calling America or other Western states for help in this dilemma will never solve the issue of religious discrimination in Egypt, Feji pointed out.

But Basit Aowad, a Christian activist and researcher, claims that Egypt’s Christian population currently faces organized discrimination from the state.

“It is clear that the state laws and legislations of the Egyptian constitution are implemented solely on Islamic principles, he said.

Diab from the Muslim Brotherhood responded that Muslims face just as much religious discrimination in Egypt as Christians.

“If Christian groups need to meet 10 conditions in order to get permission to build their churches, the government does not make it much easier for Muslim groups seeking to build mosques, he explained.

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