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MODERN EGYPT

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Bianca
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« Reply #30 on: January 14, 2009, 10:15:45 am »









A member of the NDP, speaking on condition of anonymity, argues that the time is not ripe for such legislation. "There are too many Islamist currents in parliament and in society. If we present it now it will backfire and could aggravate anti-Coptic sentiment."

Of the 452 members of the Egyptian parliament 80 directly subscribe to Muslim Brotherhood. But according to one Leftist Muslim MP, "radical Islamist sentiment goes way beyond the members of the Muslim Brotherhood into the heart of the NDP."

"Every time we discuss women's rights there is outrage from the NDP and the Muslim Brotherhood alike over the adoption of any laws that might be remotely interpreted, by the most radical of Muslim scholars, as somehow incompatible with Islamic Sharia," he says.

He cites the debate in parliament over criminalising female genital mutilation as a prime example of the "radical spirit within parliament".

"And when [Minister of Culture] Farouk Hosni made some passing remarks on the wide-scale taking of the veil by Egyptian women he was denounced by many Muslim members, including some senior ministers. We are not just talking about the Muslim Brotherhood."

Hamdi Hassan, a Muslim Brotherhood MP, has no qualms about applying different rules to the construction of churches and mosques. "There are more Muslims than Copts," he argues, "and clearly there are enough churches and not enough mosques. We see Muslims praying on the pavements next to the mosques but we see empty chairs in churches."

Any problems related to Coptic-Muslim relations cannot, Hassan argues, be solved by measures that will worsen the situation. "The issue is not one of building churches. It is one of a sense of victimisation that we all share, Muslims and Copts alike, due to the state's monopoly of power and resources."
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