Egypt: Minorities show unity at crucial conference
The Egyptian Alliance for Minorities held a conference on March 18th at the headquarters of the Al-Tagmoa Party, titled "Religious minorities are stuck between a rock and a hard place - the state and the extremists".
The conference received extensive and unprecedented media coverage addressing the systematic persecution of religious minorities since the revolution of January 25th, 2011 and with a focus on the period since the beginning of President Mursi's rule.
The conference started with the speech of Mr. Magdy Soliman, who stressed that the coalition of minorities, founded in April last year, included all marginalized groups of religious and ethnic minorities and "the purpose of today's conference is to monitor violations against religious minorities during the recent period and to find quick and practical solutions".
Mr. Mina Thabet talked about the attacks on the Copts during the last two years, such as the demolition of churches, killing of individuals or abduction of underage girls, as well as the forced displacement of the Copts from the cities of Amriyah, Rafah and Dahshur.
Ms.Amani El-weshahy stressed the sectarian discrimination in the new constitution and the suggested modifications.
In his speech, Mr. Mamdouh Nakhla addressed the discriminatory laws in force in that there is no nomination from Copts in certain positions, such as national security, security of the state, college deans, university presidents, security managers and leaders of the diplomatic or consular corps, as well as leaders in the army, police as well as the state's complicity in forcing Christians to accept reconciliation with the offenders without trial (known as customary conciliation).
"Shiite are suffering from not allowing them to establish Huseinat or thresholds, the Shi'ite shrines," stated Mahmoud Hamid, the representative of Shi`ites, and continued, "as well as fabrication of cases of religious contempt against them, which has happened already with someone from Shiite named Mohammad Asfour who was sentenced to two years."
About Baha'is, the speaker was Shady Samir who stressed the need for freedom of religion and belief for all, refusing to refer to Baha'is suffering in particular because he believes that only activated citizenship can solve all the problems of minority, including Baha`is.
At the end of the conference, Dr. Rifaat Al-Saeed, head of El-Tagmoa Party, welcomed to his party the Egyptian Alliance for Minorities, and stressed the need for acceptance of the other, and that during the era of Muhammad Ali Pasha in the eighteenth century, Egyptians were more moral and tolerant than now.
The important recommendations of the conference were :
1- Pass a law to prevent religious discrimination
2 - Pass the unified law of places of worship.
3 - Freedom to practice religious rites
4 - Take the necessary measures to protect religious minorities against extremist trends
5 - The political participation of religious and sectarian minorities based on the criterion of only efficiency
6 - Making the writing of religion in official documents optional.
7 - Urging the state to abide by international treaties and conventions ratified regarding to the rights of religious, ethnic minorities
8 - Urging the state to ratify the international conventions relating to the legal rights of minorities protocols, which has not been ratified it yet.
Photo: Mamdouh Nakhla
Credit: Copts United.