Likely to lose constitution vote, Egyptian Christians gird for long struggle
Religious freedom will have to be won within Islamic system of laws
Cairo, December 14 (World Watch Monitor) — Politically connected Christians in Egypt give credit to the Muslim Brotherhood for one thing: they can win elections. The Brotherhood got 13 million ordinary Egyptians, many of them poor, rural and illiterate, to the polls in June to vote for their presidential candidate, Mohamed Morsi.
Governing has been a different matter.
“What is helping us today is that the Muslim Brotherhood and political Islam are not always clever,” said Hassan Ismail, secretary general of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organizations. He has been networking among Christians, moderate Muslims and secularists to assemble a political counterweight to the more numerous supporters of the Brotherhood and the fundamentalist Salafis.
“Average people are starting to be against them because they don’t see anything helping them,” Ismail said, passing a sultry autumn afternoon at a Cairo café table. “Our bet is on the stupidity of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Since the January 2011 revolution that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak, economic growth has slowed and Egypt’s unemployment rate has been running at 12 percent. Prices are up by 20 percent, and likely would be higher if not for the central bank’s raid on its foreign cash reserves to prop up the value of the Egyptian pound. Textile workers and doctors alike have staged walkouts for higher wages. Tourism is moribund. The day after he was enthroned, new Coptic Pope Tawadros II said he and Egypt’s 10 million Christians would reject the proposed constitution, drafted by a committee dominated by Islamists, if it retained language establishing a religious state.
“The Muslim Brotherhood, they don’t know politics. Every day they provide us with proof,” said Dr. Ehab El Kharrat , a psychiatrist, member of Egypt’s upper house of Parliament, and a Christian member of the country’s constitution-drafting committee until he walked out in protest. “They are not the underdog any more. Now they are making one mistake after another.”
This was the view several weeks ago, when growing public exasperation with the impotence of the Morsi government appeared to open a plausible path for Christians to secure some space for themselves alongside Egypt’s widely popular Islamist political movements.
But it also was before Morsi made his late-November lurch for power with a series of decrees – since rescinded — that expanded his authority and shielded him from court oversight. It was before he ordered the committee drafting the constitution, already deserted by frustrated Christians and the object of widespread protests, to finish the job in a single night, and scheduled a popular vote for Dec. 15.
Cairo streets filled with tens of thousands of protesters, and with even more Morsi supporters, in sometimes violent confrontations. Tanks lined up in front of the presidential palace. In the streets, the dividing line has become a largely religious one: The Brotherhood and Salafis on one side chanting in support of Islam and majority rule; and opponents on the other chanting in support of a constitution without religious preferences and that protects minorities.
Article 2 of the proposed constitution establishes Islam as the state religion. “Principles of Islamic Sharia are the principal source of legislation,” it states. Article 219 spells out those principles as “general evidence, foundational rules, rules of jurisprudence, and credible sources accepted in Sunni doctrines and by the larger community.” Article 44 outlaws blasphemy.
Now that the national vote is nigh, ordinary Christians told World Watch Monitor through an interpreter that their way forward likely will be a longer, harder grind under a system of laws tilted against anyone who is not Muslim.
“The result will be fraud and the Brotherhood will win,” said Meshel Gerges, 30, a Catholic electrical engineer.
“Nothing will happen for us as Christians after the ratification of the constitution in the short term. But I think after two years they will get rid of their enemies,” Gerges said. “The church will face persecution and they will not allow us to build churches.”
Meriam Hana Wadeaa, a 32-year-old industrial manager and a Coptic Christian, said “we will see bad days” under the constitution.
“Life will be pitched,” she said. “Everyone is scared and don’t know what they do (except) pray to God to save us from this nightmare quickly.”
“The constitution is not appropriate for us as Christians because the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis are the majority who wrote the constitution,” said Sameha Ibrahem, a 45-year-old cleaning worker and Coptic Christian. “My feelings toward it are a very intense fear for my children and the country.”
The mutation of Egypt’s revolution against a dictator into a sectarian struggle troubles Mohamed El Dahshan, a Cairo-based economist and policy adviser.
“Painting society as a pro-Islam vs. anti-Islam binary choice isn’t a political dispute — it’s a civil one,” El Dahshan blogged Monday for Foreign Policy Magazine. “Because there isn’t a region, a street, a family where people don’t disagree about politics; if this kitchen table conversation is transformed into one about faith, then we’re lost. And the damage will reach all the way to the deepest threads of the society that we love to compare – mostly thanks to a Christian minority that throws in some diversity – to a complex, tightly woven tapestry.”
Giving voice to El Dahshan’s fear, several Christians who spoke with World Watch Monitor said talk of leaving Egypt for good is common in their church congregations.
Among his young church peers, 25-year-old teacher Michel Rauof said there are worries the approval of the constitution will make a bad economic situation worse, and that the unemployed will simply be forgotten. “Many think of emigration, but there is no way to emigrate,” he said through an interpreter.
Though they are likely to come out on the short end of Saturday’s constitutional referendum, Egypt’s 10 million Christians will not be left completely empty-handed.
“If this constitution were allowed, there are natural and legitimate channels to make the objection of people and organizations,” Dr. Reverend Safwat Al-Bayaadi, head of the Anglican Communion in Egypt, told World Watch Monitor through an interpreter. “And we will do so, but the church does not call for disobedience. We’ll look for ways and legitimate channels for objection and request for reconsideration. However, we reject disobedience.”
A Christian history professor in Cairo, speaking anonymously to protect his position, said believers will have little option but to confront injustices directly, and loudly.
“The oldest and best way is continuing our resistance and exposing it to the whole world,” he said. “Go publicly to the international society, while resisting on the inside.”
“We are preparing ourselves for a long, long struggle and battle with Islam,” the professor said. “What is happening with Islamists in the streets is one part of that. We win some of these small battles. We have some of the rights we fought for.”
Even if Christians have run out of time to gather the votes needed to reject the proposed constitution Saturday, the professor said they continue to win converts to the cause of religious freedom for Egypt.
“The number of people refusing political Islam is increasing every day,” he said, “and this is encouraging us that maybe we will be victorious in the future.”
[kill criminal: globalist FED ECB: IMF 666: ie, banking seigniorage: for masonic system] 12/26/2012, TURKEY: Bartholomew: Christmas to overcome fanaticism and economic abuses. by NAT da Polis. The ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople issues a vibrant appeal against religious and political excesses and economic abuses by the powerful against the weak. He calls on people to embrace the message from Bethlehem for true peace on Earth. Istanbul (AsiaNews) – “Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax homínibus bonæ voluntatis” sang the angels to announce the birth of Our Lord. Sadly, our Earth is still a battleground because humans continue to reject the message of the Lord, which urges us to obey his will and message of peace.
[kill criminal: globalist FED ECB: IMF 666: ie, banking seigniorage: for masonic system] In his Christmas homely, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said that humans continue to stand out for the fanaticism of their religious and political beliefs and greedy quest for material goods. This explains why political action and behaviour are aggressive and the root of so many conflicts. Although the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great issued an Edict of Toleration in 313 in matters of religious faith, granting Christians freedom of worship, Christian minorities continue to be persecuted nowadays.
[kill criminal: globalist FED ECB: IMF 666: ie, banking seigniorage: for masonic system] Economic conflict and the ephemeral pursuit of wealth as the goal of human existence continue to grow, Bartholomew said. Sadly, the consequence is the concentration of wealth in the hands of a small minority and the ensuing impoverishment of most of the world’s population. What some see as an unfair distribution of resources is actually a moral crisis, which is not justly taken into account. In fact, some have tried to justify it in the name of free markets. However, for Bartholomew, free markets should not allow crimes even if they do not fall under criminal law. Anyone who takes what belongs to others, whatever their means or pretext, commits a crime, undermining peace and social cohesion.
[kill criminal: globalist FED ECB: IMF 666: ie, banking seigniorage: for masonic system] Speaking from the Fanar, historic headquarters of Orthodox Christianity, Bartholomew said that Christians are concerned witness of the times and of their growing conflicts. For this reason, our wish is for the New Year to be characterised by human solidarity, as the Great Fathers of the Church always taught us. Every person of goodwill must look in that direction, the ecumenical patriarch said, first and foremost spiritual leaders, so that the peace of our Lord, who was born today, may reign, because the charity and peace that have always characterised the action of the disciples of our Lord may contribute to human solidarity and coexistence.
Bartolomeo: il Natale un invito a superare fanatismi e prevaricazioni economiche
di NAT da Polis
Vibrante appello del Patriarca ecumenico di Costantinopoli contro gli eccessi religiosi e politici e gli abusi economici dei potenti nei confronti dei più deboli. Abbracciare il messaggio che viene da Betlemme se si vuole la vera pace in Terra.
Istanbul (AsiaNews) – “Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax homínibus bonæ voluntatis”, cantavano gli angeli per annunziare la nascita di Nostro Signore, ma purtroppo sulla nostra Terra continuano a imperversare le guerre, perché si persiste a rifiutare il messaggio del Signore, che ci invita ad obbedire alla sua volontà ed al suo messaggio di pace.
Nella sua omelia per Natale, il patriarca ecumenico Bartolomeo ha detto che l’essere umano continua a contraddistinguersi per il fanatismo nelle sue convinzioni religiose e politiche e per l’avidità nella sua persistente rincorsa alla conquista dei beni materiali. Motivo per cui le sue azioni politiche sono caratterizzate da comportamenti aggressivi, che sono all’origine di tanti conflitti.
Benché l’imperatore romano Costantino , detto il Grande, nel lontano 313 abbia promulgato l’editto sulla libertà di culto, permettendo così anche ai cristiani di esercitare la propria fede, purtroppo ai nostri giorni continuano a vedersi persecuzioni contro le minoranze cristiane.
Allo stesso tempo, prosegue Bartolomeo, sono in continua crescita i conflitti di natura economica e la corsa all’effimero profitto , come fine essenziale dell’umana esistenza, con la triste conseguenza della concentrazione della ricchezza nelle mani di una ristretta minoranza e il conseguente impoverimento delle grande massa della popolazione mondiale. Questo divario dovuto all’ingiusta distribuzione delle risorse viene definita dagli addetti crisi economica, ma in verità è una vera e propria crisi morale. E a questa crisi morale non si dà il giusto peso. Al contrario si cerca di giustificarla, invocando varie considerazioni sul libero mercato. Ma il libero mercato, spiega Bartolomeo , non deve permettere crimini, anche se non considerati tali dai codici penali. Crimini commette anche chi, in vari modi e con sotterfugi , sottrae i beni agli altri, mettendo in crisi la pace e la coesione sociale.
E proprio noi, osserva Bartolomeo , dalla nostra sede di Fanar, riferimento della Cristianità ortodossa, siamo testimoni preoccupati di quei segni dei tempi che registrano un crescendo di conflitti , motivo per cui ci auguriamo che l’anno nuovo sia caratterizzato dall’umana solidarietà, come ci hanno sempre insegnato i grandi padri della Chiesa.
In questa direzione, ha concluso il patriarca ecumenico, devono seriamente impegnarsi tutti gli uomini di buona volontà, ed in primo luogo noi i capi spirituali, onde poter far regnare la pace del nostro Signore, nato oggi. Perché la carità e la pace che hanno sempre contraddistinto l’operato dei discepoli di nostro Signore, devono fungere da bussola per contribuire a tutti i costi all’umana solidarietà e coesistenza.
una moltitudine dell’esercito celeste,
che lodava Dio e diceva:
“Gloria a Dio nel più alto dei cieli
e sulla terra pace agli uomini
del [suo] compiacimento”» (Lc 2,12-14).
L’evangelista dice che gli angeli «parlano».
Ma per i cristiani era chiaro fin dall’inizio
che il parlare degli angeli è un cantare,
in cui tutto lo splendore
della grande gioia da loro annunciata
si fa percettibilmente presente.
E così, da quell’ora in poi,
il canto di lode degli angeli
non è mai più cessato…
Si può ben comprendere
che il semplice popolo dei credenti
abbia poi sentito cantare anche i pastori, e,
fino ad oggi, nella Notte Santa,
si unisca alle loro melodie,
esprimendo col canto
la grande gioia che da allora
sino alla fine dei tempi a tutti è donata”
(Benedetto XVI, L’infanzia di Gesù)
AsiaNews augura a tutti i lettori un gioioso e Santo Natale 2012, insieme a un sereno 2013