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Middle East and Africa

Declaration of the Coptic Catholic Patriarchy on the new Egyptian Constitution

• The new Constitution is considered one of the longest constitutions of Egypt, as it reached the number of 247 articles, including 42 new articles, 18 articles in the freedom section and 45 articles concerning workers and peasants.



• The Constitution includes several articles – not only one –that concern the Christian citizens directly. These articles are: 3, 50, 53, 64, 74, 180, 235, 244.



• In addition, the preamble and some other articles do not refer directly Christians, but they benefit from them, especially in the field of public rights and freedoms, as the following:



1. The preamble indicates that the Egyptian people welcomes "The Virgin Mary and her newborn and protected her during her sacred journey across Egypt, which expresses the respect and appreciation for the Christian religion".


The introduction of Islam in Egypt has worked on the protection of Egyptian Christians from the Romans who were occupying Egypt during this period; the Egyptians gave thousands of martyrs for the sake of the defense of the Church of Christ.


The preamble used the famous saying of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III: "Egypt is not a country that we live in, but a country that lives in us." It also noted that Al-Azhar and the Egyptian Church appreciate what the people's army does to protect the national will; moreover, it expressed, in the words of the Egyptian people, "we are writing a Constitution that preserves our freedoms and protects the nation from all threats to our national unity."




2. Article 3 of the Constitution states that "the principles of the canons of the Egyptians, Christians and Jews, are the main source of legislation regulating their personal and religious affairs and how they choose their leaders." This article stresses on the independence of the Church and the Egyptian Christians when it comes to their religious affairs.



3. Article 50 states that "Egypt's civic and cultural – material and moral – heritage, in all its diversity and major stages (ancient Egypt, Coptic and Islamic phases), is a national and humanitarian wealth, which the State abides to preserve and maintain, as well as the contemporary cultural architectural stock and the literary and artistic ones, with their various diversities. The assault of any of those is a crime punishable by law." The State pays special attention to maintaining the components of cultural pluralism in Egypt.



4. Article 53 indicates that "all citizens are equal in rights, freedoms and public duties before the law, with no discrimination on grounds of religion or belief. The discrimination and the incitement to hatred are considered a crime punishable by law." This means that who is exposed to discrimination has the right to sue the responsible for this act, which limits the persecution of Christians, women or others.



5. Article 64 stipulates the "absolute freedom of belief and religious practice and the establishment of houses of worship for divine religions adherents, as a right organized without limitation or narrowing."



6. Article 74 states that "the right to form political parties should not be based on religion, discrimination of sex, ethnic origin, sectarian or geographic basis".



7. Article 180 sets that a quarter of local council seats are allocated for young people under the age of 35 and a quarter of that is reserved for women. The representation of workers and peasants is 50% of the total number of seats, and this percentage should include an appropriate representation of Christians and disables. This means commitment to the representation of Christians in local councils.



8. Article 235 states that the commitment of the parliament in its first convening, after the adoption of the Constitution, is to issue a law that regulates the construction and renovation of churches and to ensure the free exercise of the religious rituals for Christians. This came as an expression of everyone's desire to repair the harm that churches suffered during the country's war on terrorism and sectarian ideas, as well as the organization of building another new ones.



9. Article 244 stipulates that "The State shall work to achieve appropriate representation for young people, Christians, persons with disabilities and Egyptians abroad on the first parliament convening, as the law will determine". This is a positive discrimination that helps these groups to access the parliamentary seats with fair proportions and to skip the conditions that do not allow them to access.