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Author Topic: MODERN EGYPT  (Read 7952 times)
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« Reply #30 on: January 14, 2009, 10:21:29 am »

The right of Muslims to promote Islam within the Coptic community is legally accepted even if it has not, especially in recent years, been encouraged by the state. But the right of Christians to promote their religion among Muslims is strictly prohibited.

Other grievances include political representation, access to senior jobs, especially in areas of state security and intelligence, the representation of Christians and Christianity in school curricula and state-run media and even religious holidays.

In 2004 Coptic Christmas was upgraded from a Coptic to a national holiday. Around the same time Christmas mass began to be broadcast on state-run TV, though not on the main channel that televises Friday prayers every week. Coptic Christmas remains the only feast on the Coptic calendar to be a national holiday.

Arabic textbooks present a Muslim, not a Muslim-Coptic society. "Take, for example, the Quranic texts used in Arabic language teaching books. Some of the verses included in the curricula are quite anti-Christian," comments Gamal Asaad, an advocate of Christian-Muslim unity in the face of government coercion.

Unlike some other Christian figures, including Father Thomas who recently gave a controversial lecture in the US calling for the elimination of all Quranic texts from Arabic language curricula, Asaad is not opposed to the use of Quran to teach Arabic linguistics. "It just has to be done in a way that is sensitive to the Christian student so that he [or she] does not feel the subject of discrimination."

Such adjustments, argues Mounir, are unlikely to occur without better representation of Copts in parliament. "If legislative elections are conducted on the basis of the slate system then enough Copts would find their way to parliament and be in a position to bring about this and other required changes," argues Mounir.

Some have suggested a "quota" be allocated to Coptic parliamentarians, though others argue this could serve to underline sectarian divisions within society.

"We should not be acting in a way that will ultimately lead to widening divisions," warns Asaad.

Haitham Abu Zeid, executive director of the still to be authorised Al-Wasat Party, believes it is "unimportant to talk about state or other forms of legislative elections when we all, Muslims and Copts alike, know that elections are rigged by the government."

"Whoever thinks that the government will have a hard time finding a few Copts to follow its agenda is mistaken. There are a host of citizens from all backgrounds and beliefs that have sold out."
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