Top Christian Politician Quits Egyptian Parliament Over Low Minority Representation
A top Christian politician has quit her seat in Egypt's upper house of parliament on Thursday, in protest of the new constitution approved by the Islamist-dominated government which she says does not protect the rights of minorities.
Nadia Henry, the Anglican Church's representative in the upper house, explained in her resignation letter that she found that liberal and minority groups were not adequately represented in the parliament, Reuters reported. President Mohamed Morsi had appointed 90 new members to the chamber last week, which included some Christians and minorities like women, but the majority of new members belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood and the ultra-conservative Salafis, who want to oversee Egypt under Sharia law.
"I agreed to the membership of the Shura Council (upper house) in the context of consensus that stressed all civil forces will get appointed," Henry wrote.
"Since that did not happen, I hope you accept my apology for not accepting the appointment," she said.
Morsi had hoped that the new parliament would be able to work together and achieve a consensus on how to handle the country's problems, such as en economic crisis.
"We stress again that the nation should achieve internal reconciliation and forget its differences," the Muslim Brotherhood's supreme guide, Mohamed Badei, told Egyptians in his weekly message. "Let's work seriously to end the reciprocal wars of attrition. We are in an urgent need to unify ranks and group together and focus our capabilities and assets to the general benefit."
Other Christians and liberals have quit the parliament in recent times too, however, believing that Morsi's call of unity is more of a smoke screen. The Egyptian Coptic Church has also expressed concerns that Christians, who make up around 10 percent of the predominantly Muslim country, may not be getting the representation they need to protect and respect their rights.
In November, the Egyptian president riled up the judicial system in the country when he sought to give himself almost unlimited power, allowing him to bypass many hurdles along the way.
Later, however, Morsi admitted that he might have made some mistakes in his vision for ratifying the constitution.
"There have been mistakes here and there, and I bear responsibility," Morsi said, as quoted by The New York Times.
Despite Morsi's apparent agreement to listen more to representatives of the opposition when ratifying the constitution, concerns remain that the Muslim Brotherhood's real plans are to make sure that their decrees are passed regardless of any discontent by minorities in the parliament.
"It is making things a lot worse," Ahmed Said, member of the National Salvation Front coalition and head of the liberal Free Egyptians Party, has said. "I cannot imagine that after all this they want to pass a constitution that does not represent all Egyptians."