CAIRO: Reacting to President Hosni Mubarak’s statements on Muslim-Christian relations in Egypt, lawyer Naguib Gobrael says that he “refuses to accept that Egyptian Copts in diaspora “are spreading misinformation about the issue.
Mubarak said Sunday during his speech, given on the occasion of national Police Day, that there have been “continued attempts to disrupt national unity in Egypt and provoke sectarian strife in the country.
“There exist extremists on both sides, and there are individuals who try to exploit Egypt’s ordinary people. We must resist these efforts with all our powers, Mubarak is quoted as saying by the official state news agency, MENA.
His comments were viewed as directed at the Coptic community in the Diaspora, particularly north America, who are vocal about what they regard as the persecution of Egypt’s Christian minority.
Hundreds of Copts marched through New York City to the United Nations building last week in protest at the Nagaa Hammadi killings, when six Copts and a Muslim were shot dead outside a church on Eastern Christmas Eve.
We refuse to accept that the Egyptian Copts are spreading false ideas among the public outside of Egypt, because those Copts are Egyptians and part of the nation, Gobrael told Daily News Egypt.
“What pushes them to protest in front of the United Nations headquarters is their feeling of obligation towards the Copts in Egypt, Gobrael added.
They are outside of Egypt, they can say whatever they want. If I say that they aren t good, then they criticize me, if I say that they are, then the government is not happy and I could go to jail for it. So why don t you ask President Mubarak about what he has to say? Coptic thinker and writer Milad Hanna said.
Both Gobrael and Emad Gad, an analyst at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, identified positive aspects in Mubarak’s speech.
“It is important to put this statement [about religious relations in Egypt] in the context of the whole speech. Mubarak spoke positively about the situation. He defined himself as an Egyptian President for all Egyptians – compare this with Sadat who called himself a Muslim leader, Gad said.
“This is new and important. Mubarak tried to make some kind of balance – he put blame on both the Muslims and the Copts abroad, Gad continued.
Gobrael said that while “what the president said in his speech is very good, the problem is that it’s not enough.
“The government has to create relations between itself and its people.
Gad suggested the reforms necessary in Egyptian society which are of most importance to the country’s Copts.
He said that there must be “an end to the Islamization of everything in Egypt and also called for a unified law on places of worship. Christians say that they face great difficulties in securing official permission to build or even repair churches.
“Educational curricula must change; especially at the primary and preparatory levels – they Islamize everything in school books, Gad continued, adding that “Civil law must be applied. -With additional reporting by Rabab Elmonofi.