Christians Urged to Cooperate in Creating Egypt's New Gov't

Egyptian Christians have been urged to cooperate with Muslims to ensure equal rights for the minority group as the nation begins the process of forming a new government.

Though the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak last Friday was the will of the nation, it is the next step that really counts, insisted Jesuit Fr. Samir Khalil Samir, an Egyptian expert in Islam and adviser to the Catholic Church on Muslim-Christian relations.

In an interview with Catholic News Agency, he stated that a reformed constitution was needed to "help people to live a little more humanly."

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"Maybe after this, after having passed through an authoritarian regime, people will really try to do something more democratic," he said.

A display of solidarity between Christians and Muslims during the recent protests proved a sign of "hope for Egypt," said Samir. "Christians and Muslims were together. We didn't have any extreme appeal to Islam."

However, he acknowledged that a push for Islamization in Egypt would always exist in the predominately Muslim nation.

Alaa Setyan, a human rights lawyer experienced in defending minority members in police brutality cases, expressed concern for the rights of all citizens, including Christians.

"I fear for the rights of all people, like the Muslim Brotherhood and Christians. I fear that they might be treated unfairly; I believe we are all the same people and everyone should have his right, whatever his way of thinking is, whatever his religion," he was quoted by NPR.

As Egypt's new military rulers step in to oversee the transitional period, Samir claimed that Christians need to be "very much involved in the society, in the political and social and economic world of the nation."

He noted equality in the job market, the ability to obtain permits to build churches and the freedom for Egyptians to convert to Christianity without threat of harm as the major areas of concern for the Christian community.

"The main point is this: that we are all under the same rule," he said.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces was handed power by Mubarak after his departure and have already begun dissolution of the lower and upper houses of parliament.

The legislative body will temporarily run the country's affairs until a new president is elected, and have promised citizens a referendum on constitutional amendments.

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