The Coptic Orthodox Church has handed a memorandum to President Adly Mansour, Egypt’s interim president, highlighting its views on the constitutional declaration he issued earlier this week.
Judge Amir Ramzy told Watani that Anba Pola, Bishop of Tanta, presented the memo last week to the President. The constitutional declaration in question cites the constitutional principles Egypt will go by until a new constitution is drafted.
The new constitution should not start from scratch; a commission formed by the President will work changes to the much criticised Islamist constitution passed during the year the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) Muhammad Mursi was president.
Pope Tawadros II had formed a legal committee to study the constitutional declaration, and write a report on it.
The committee included Anba Pola, Bishop of Tanta; the judges Munsif Soliman, Amir Ramzy and Ihab Ramzy, Suzy Adly Nashed who is a political economist, and the politician Kamel Saleh. The Pope last week discussed the report with the committee members at Anba Bishoy Monastery in Wadi al-Natroun in the Western Desert.
The Church demanded that the Islamist constitution should be annulled and a new one written, instead of working amendments to the current severely flawed document.
The major objections of the Church centre on the first article of the constitutional declaration. The insistence of Islamists to include this article in the previous [Islamist] constitution had led the Church to withdraw from the constituent assembly that was drafting it last autumn. The Church; as well as liberals, seculars, and moderate Muslims for that matter; object to this article on grounds that it endorses an Islamist State. The article reads: “The Arab Republic of Egypt is a democratic system based on citizenship; Islam is the State religion; Arabic its official language; and the principles of sharia derived from the established Sunni canons and sources are the main source of legislation.”
Judge Amir Ramzy said that the Church expressed its total understanding of the current political situation in Egypt, which especially calls for conciliation and inclusion, but also believes that the first article in the constitutional declaration is divisive and should be reviewed.
The other articles criticised by the Church in the President’s constitutional declaration were Articles 28 and 29 which cite the regulations for the formation of the panels that would amend the constitution. A 10-person commission of legal and constitutional experts should write the amended constitution which should then be referred to a 50-member committee for discussion. Those 50 members should be representative of the various sectors of the Egyptian society, including political parties, intellectuals, labourers, peasants, professional syndicates, national councils, unions, al-Azhar, Egypt’s Churches, armed forces, police and public figures. The commission should include at least ten youth and women members. Each party of the mentioned above will nominate its representative whereas the cabinet will nominate the public figures.
The Church demanded that the 10-member panel should include legal and constitutional experts that represent the Church and al-Azhar.
Revolution as yet incomplete
The Maspero Youth Union, a Coptic activist group, criticised the President’s constitutional declaration.
Under the title: We want a national State, but a religious State is being forced upon us instead, they issued a statement which read: “The Egyptian people paid a high price to get rid of a regime that traded in religion. In numbers that exceeded 30 millions, the largest in the world to protest against a regime, Egyptians took to the streets to express their rejection of the Islamist regime, its principles, terrorist policies, and the manner in which they ran the country.
“On 30 June, we went out not only to bring down a president but to bring down a State built by those who call for hatred, violence and murder in cold blood. We did not take the streets to give legitimacy to religious-based parties that work to erase Egypt’s identity, battle its civilisation and culture, demand the demolition of its temples and monuments, and allow girls as young as nine years old to get married.
“It is obvious that the revolution is as yet incomplete, and our struggle for a normal State under which we live in dignity and pride is not over. We vow that the blood of our martyrs has not been shed in vain…We will keep up our struggle and will not be terrified into silence. The huge price paid for a secular Egyptian State cannot condone the constitutional declaration which promises the same principles rejected by the 30 June Revolution.”
21 July 2013
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