Church not into politics

10-12-2012 11:11 AM

Nader Shukry

A general state of comfort has reigned among Copts on account of the Church refusing to be pushed into politics

A general state of comfort has reigned among Copts on account of the Church refusing to be pushed into politics. Several Coptic activists have applauded the “sound decision” of Pope Tawadros II of staying out of politics.
A Church source earlier confirmed that the Church had come under pressure from the political authorities in Egypt to join in the meeting called for by President Mursi last Saturday. All political movements in Egypt were invited to discuss the protests against the President’s recent decrees by which he gave himself sweeping powers, and set the date 15 December for a referendum on an Islamist constitution that had been rushed through a constituent assembly whose legality is under question in court.
The Church declined the invitation, and said it saw itself as a religious institution whose main role is to pray for Egypt and its safety and stability; political dialogue is the responsibility of political parties and public figures.
“The Church should not be pushed into any political debate,” member of the Coptic Orthodox Melli (Community) Council member Kamel Saleh told Watani, “especially after it took that step back following the 25 January 2011 Revolution. The Copts have become an active part in a vigorous political and public scene, in political parties and movements through which they demand their rights as Egyptian citizens.” By attempting to treat the Church as the sole representative of the Copts on the political level, the Islamist regime now ruling Egypt wishes to turn the political scene into a sectarian one, in order to further polarise the Egyptian street, Mr Saleh said.
The lawyer and political acitivist Peter al-Naggar said  that Pope Tawadros’s response confirms his sensitivity to the pulse of the Coptic street which rejects this dialogue. He said that only the Islmists, their allies and persons with special interests took part in the dialogue President Mursi called for. The presidency attempted to push the Church into it in order to create a state of political inflammation that would surely turn into sectarian conflict, Naggar pointed out. But the Pope as well as the other Egyptian Churches, he said, were wise enough to steer clear off this pitfall.
Reverend Safwat al-Bayadi, head of the Evangelical Church in Egypt, who divulged that no official invitation had been extended to the Church to participate in the dialogue, confirmed that the Church refuses to take part in any political dialogue and that it should be left to politicians to reach a common understanding.
Watani International
10 December 2012
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