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Author Topic: MODERN EGYPT  (Read 7463 times)
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« Reply #30 on: January 14, 2009, 10:14:23 am »

Regulations imposed on the construction of churches are part of Egypt's Ottoman legacy. They were left unchallenged until 2004 -- practically on the eve of the 2005 presidential elections -- when permit requirements for the reconstruction of churches were removed and governors, rather than the president, were given the authority to authorise reconstruction notifications.

"It is still unfair. As a citizen I have every right to be treated according to the same rules as my fellow citizens. I am not asking for a preferential treatment. I am asking for justice to be done," says Michael Mounir, a leading figure in the group commonly labelled "Expatriate Copts". Mounir, who has been criticised by the state, Islamists, most Muslims and some Copts, says that he is determined to end this injustice.

Mounir makes no apologies for lobbying US Congress to pressure Egypt to introduce legal amendments stipulating that Muslims and Christians be treated identically when it comes to the building of mosques and churches. He takes responsibility for drafting the controversial bill 1303 that "calls on the Egyptian government to respect human rights and freedoms of religion and expression in Egypt". He sees nothing wrong with the text of the draft resolution still pending in Congress that argues that Copts "suffer from many forms of discrimination" including "difficulty in building and repairing churches".

The resolution, he insists, was not devised so as to apply economic pressure on the Egyptian government to adopt legal amendments. "This is not the point. The point is that the government needs to realise that Copts in and out of Egypt are not going to tolerate prolonged injustice and that it needs to end this injustice."

Mounir says that he has spoken with the Egyptian government and the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) "at the highest level" over his work to induce "overdue" legislative amendments in relation to the construction and repair of churches yet the promises he has been receiving for over four years now have yet to be honoured. "We are still waiting on a draft law for the unified construction code for mosques and churches to be presented to parliament."
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