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Coptic Solidarity Opposes Inclusion of Sharia in New Egyptian Constitution

Contact: Hal Meawad, Coptic Solidarity, 240-644-5153, info@copticsolidarity.org

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- Coptic Solidarity is extremely alarmed that the Egyptian committee tasked with constitutional revisions may be succumbing to intense pressure by Islamists to even further enshrine Sharia as the basis of the constitution.

The effect will be only to institutionalize discrimination and persecution of all religious minorities such as Copts, Baha'i, Shia Muslims, and Jews.

Research presented in the The Price of Freedom Denied, and published by PEW Forum on Religion and Public Life confirm that less women's empowerment, less economic development, more terrorism, conflict, violent extremism, and political instability are all found in places with less religious freedom. This was clearly demonstrated in Egypt under Morsi's Islamist-agenda rule.

Since Morsi was deposed, Copts have suffered the brunt of Muslim Brotherhood outrage through targeted murders and kidnappings of Copts and destruction of their churches, monasteries, schools, homes and businesses.  Reuters recently shared a report in which Egypt emerged the very worst country in which to be a woman.

In 1980, Sadat changed Article 2 in the constitution, making Sharia "the" primary source of legislation. The result has been a steady Islamization of the country. This paved the way for empowering the Brotherhood and an increasingly difficult situation for religious minorities in which they have been relegated to live as second class citizens. Sharia impacts nearly every aspect of citizen's lives, be they Muslim or not. Building churches is subject to draconian rules and Copts have yet to see their churches fixed despite numerous attacks on their houses of worship. Copts have also suffered discrimination as can easily be seen by the lack of representation in parliament, governmental positions, police, media, universities and particularly "sensitive" posts. Copts are subjected to the Sharia rules on family matters such as custody, adoption and inheritance. Conversion away from Islam has been virtually prohibited while conversion into Islam has been supported.

Further defining Sharia "principles," as demanded by Salafists, would allow application of the myriad of interpretations and rulings that date back to the Tenth Century. It would take Egypt back by centuries bringing it closer societally to Afghanistan, Iran, or Somalia. Typical Sharia injunctions include the application of barbaric bodily punishments, such as stoning, amputation of limbs, or flagellation; non-Muslim's court testimony cannot be accepted against a Muslim; and child marriage is permissible upon reaching puberty.

Coptic Solidarity calls on the constitutional committee to not betray the dreams of most Egyptians who bravely fought for this golden window of opportunity to create a society that is more stable, empowers women to fully participate, and that flourishes economically. These dreams can only be achieved by establishing the constitution at par with modern standards: based on liberty, equality, and justice. A Sharia-influenced constitution will be diametrically opposed to such principles.

Coptic Solidarity is non-profit organization dedicated to leading efforts to achieve equal citizenship for the Copts in Egypt. For more information, contact Hal Meawad 240-644-5153 or info@copticsolidarity.org.