Egypt's new draft constitution, to be voted on in a national referendum in January, is being hailed for its improvements over the 2012 Islamist-backed constitution. But the new constitution still has a number of shortcomings on religious and personal freedoms, according to concerned Egyptian Christians and human rights groups.
"Personally I'm cautiously optimistic," said Halim Meawad, co-founder of Coptic Solidarity, a U.S.-based international Coptic Christian human rights organization.
Meawad said the draft constitution is an improvement over the Muslim Brotherhood constitution of 2012, particularly with elimination of Article 219, which defined aspects of Sharia law on which legislation could be based. Article 219 and other aspects of the 2012 constitution led many liberal and Christian leaders to boycott the Muslim Brotherhood government, eventually culminating in popular protests and the military's ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. more >>
Highlighting escalation of attacks on Egypt's Copts, speakers at a congressional hearing this week expressed concerns over the Muslim Brotherhood making Christians the scapegoat for the Islamist group's political downfall.
"An unprecedented wave of violence erupted against Christians" after security forces' violent crackdown on Brotherhood protesters following the removal of President Mohammed Morsi in July, noted Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom.
"They [Copts] alone were set as scapegoats and erroneously blamed and accused of instigating or contributing to the violent dispersal of pro-Morsi demonstrators," added Bishop Angaelos at a joint hearing before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations and Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa on Tuesday. more >>
The Evangelical broadcasting Organization, a public broadcaster in The Netherlands with a mission to bring Jesus Christ to TV, radio, Internet and magazines, has produced a new music video called "Justice Song," recorded in a burned Coptic Church in Egypt.
"We heard about what happened in Egypt, last august, when over a hundred of Christian buildings (many churches amongst it) [were] destroyed by radical Muslims," Marco van der Straten, EO-spokesman and executive producer of "Justice Song," shared in an email with The Christian Post on Wednesday.
"As a part of our human rights project, we decided to make a music video in Egypt, with a Christian Dutch artist (William Wixley) and an Egyptian artist (Rando Harvey). It's a song that expresses our feelings, we want to stand side-by-side with the persecuted Christians around the world. And it's a song about hope." more >>
Egyptian Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat issued a decision that bans publications from writing about the Warraq church case as well as other issues still under investigation by the Supreme State Security Prosecution.
Barakat ordered national, partisan and foreign newspapers as well as audio and visual media to adhere to the resolution.
Two armed masked men on a motorcycle fired indiscriminately at the Virgin Mary Church in Warraq, Giza, as people were leaving a wedding ceremony on October 20. The attack claimed the lives of four people, including a child, and wounded 17. more >>
Dr. Abdel Halim Kandil, a prominent Egyptian journalist, expressed his rejection of a quota system for Copts and other religious minorities to ensure their representation in parliament that is being considered in the new draft of the country's constitution.
Kandil insited that they should be treated as Egyptian citizens with full rights with the understanding that Copts in the country have been suffering for centuries.
"Copts have been suffering from religious discrimination since Ottoman rule in Egypt," Kandil told Mideast Christian News. "The displacement of Copts is a major crime," he added. more >>
The Egyptian Coalition for Minorities (ECM) has called on the Egyptian state to ensure the freedom for all Egyptians to practice their religion and beliefs.
The coalition expressed its "deep dissatisfaction" with the government's decision to close the Hussein Mosque today on the commemoration of the death of Imam Hussein bin Ali, one of the four grand imams of Shiite Muslim community in order to prevent Shiite rituals in celebration of Ashura in a statement issued today.
ECM said this is a "clear violation" of the right to religious worship, and an actual application of Article 219 on the interpretation of Islamic Sharia in the disabled Constitution of 2012. Adding that such action shed light on the extent of the influence of the Wahhabi current on official decisions issued by the government. more >>