Coptic Pope: Discrimination Against Christians in Egypt 'Hurts Us So Much'

Coptic Patriarch H.H. Pope Tawadros II has highlighted how discrimination in Egypt against Coptic Christians has hurt them significantly.

In an interview with MBC TV recently Pope Tawadros stressed that Copts in Egypt suffer even when they want to build places of worship, and that the procedures to build a church in Egypt are so complex, under the Hamayouni edict which is still in effect, that it may take up to 20 years to complete.

"This discrimination hurts us so much, as the Church for Christians means their everyday life, because they practice, for example, their baptism, marriage and other rituals inside it," Pope Tawadros II said. "There is no reason to not pass a law for building houses of worship."

Commenting on the fatwas issued that prohibit congratulating Christians on their holidays, he said, "Those few people [who issued the fatwas] should not be considered and the community must condemn these actions, as this is wounding to it. But our heart is open to everyone, even to those who prohibit congratulating us on our feasts."

When asked about the position of the Church in the constitution, the pope said that the Church did not withdraw until after the Constituent Assembly had moved away from consensus, and a state of ambiguity prevailed.

"The decision to withdraw was taken by the majority, and it was not sudden but there were preliminary steps," he explained.

"There are dangerous articles in this constitution," Pope Tawadros II added. "For example, Article 70, which states that every child has the right to have an appropriate name, may be used in a discriminatory way against Copts. If a Christian family wants to register 'Kyrillos' as the name of its baby, for example, and the hospital employee does not like the name because it is not appropriate, then the employee is enforcing the constitution."

He continued, "The text here is imprecise and does not specify who is responsible for determining the appropriate name. Additionally, it is unacceptable to draft an article to explain another one in the constitution, such as Article 219 which explains Article 2."

Pope Tawadros II stressed that the objection was not on the articles that concern the Church, but those concern freedoms.

He also insisted that the concern of Coptic Christians is something "society as a whole" should be responsible for: "The concerns of Copts are the responsibility of the society as a whole, because a safe society provides tranquility. We must forget the last period with all its disadvantages and start over."

The patriarch concluded his interview by expressing his hope that peace and stability would prevail in Egypt and that Egyptians would have a new start.

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