Al-Kanisa al-Qibtiya…Tawazunat al-Din wal-Dawla (The Egyptian Church: Balancing Religion and Politics); Hani Labib; Nahdet Misr; Cairo 2012
Al-Kanisa al-Qibtiya…Tawazunat al-Din wal-Dawla (The Egyptian Church: Balancing Religion and Politics), a new book by the researcher Hani Labib, will be hitting the shelves in the coming few days. The book, published by Nahdet Misr publishing house, discusses in 500 large-format pages the relationship between the Church and the State throughout the last 50 years.
Mr Labib discusses the prevailing notion that reduces the relationship between the Church and the State to that between the Pope and the president. This relationship has taken several turns through the years: from a personal accord between Pope Kyrillos VI and President Gamal Abdel-Nasser in the 1960s to a formal association between Pope Shenouda III and President Anwar al-Sadat in the 1970s, and eventually to an institutional relationship between the State and Church in the last 30 years under Pope Shenouda III and former president Hosni Mubarak, during which time its affairs were handled mainly by the security apparatus.
The book also lists all the available literature written about the relationship between Pope Shenouda III and Sadat, suggesting it was a pivotal association that had negative implications.
Mr Labib also covers the details of the intricate relations between the Copts and the various Islamic currents and the evolution of the violence against Copts. He also maps the various Christian sects which came to life during the last half a century.
Mr Labib discusses points of contention between Copts and Muslims. Major among them is the second article of the former constitution, which Islamists insist should remain in any Egyptian constitution. This article stipulates that Islam is the religion of the State, Arabic its language, and the principles of Islamic sharia the main source of legislation. Other points of contention include the passing of a direly needed unified family law for all Christian sects, a unified law for places of worship, the media bias against Christians, and the escalating attacks against Copts.
The book’s 100-page appendix includes documents never before published. Among them the draft of an Islamic constitution that was approved by the Islamic Research Academy in the 1970s and which included an article stipulating that apostasy is a crime that warrants the death penalty.
The Egyptian Church: Balancing Religion and Politics can be considered as an analytical encyclopaedia on the topic. It will be discussed in a seminar on 6th February among the cultural activities of the Cairo International Book Fair, which opens on Sunday 22 January in Cairo. Participating in the discussion will be researcher and vice governor of Cairo Samir Morqos, the writer and head of the State-owned Dar al-Hilal publishing house Hilmy al-Namnam, the MP Emad Gad, history professor Nevine Mossaad, and the intellectual Mustafa al-Fiqi.