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Egypt's Coptic Christians Boycott Constitutional Panel Over Islamist Influence

Faith

"inappropriate to continue to be represented given the reservations of various political forces..."

The Arab Spring has led to a dismantling of the Egyptian government and fears over minority rights in the Middle Eastern nation. Shortly after the initial protests that led to former President Hosni Mubarak ouster, Coptic Christians had deadly run-ins with military leaders.

Recently, The Blaze highlighted the ongoing assault against Christians in detail. Now, with Islamists taking control of the Egyptian parliament and with an impending presidential election, the Coptic Orthodox church is taking a stand.

(Related: Muslim Brotherhood Reverses Course, Will Run Its Own Candidate for President in Egypt)

According to AFP, the church will boycott an Islamist-dominated panel that has been tasked with putting together the nation's future constitution. The current commission has 100 members who were selected by the parliament to examine the issue. The parliament, of course, is predominantly made up of Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists.

Rather than keeping its two church members on the committee, the Holy Synod has decided, unanimously, to remove them from the discussions. According to a report from the MENA news agency, the church believes that it's "inappropriate to continue to be represented given the reservations of various political forces on how the constitutional commission was composed."

These withdrawals come as some individuals are claiming that they are being used, AFP reports, as "collateral" for Islamists seeking to infuse the new constitution with their political ideology. The Christians' decision comes following Pope Shenouda III's death. Shenouda, the leader of the Coptic church, often acted to protect the religious minority.

The decision comes after the Brotherhood announced over the weekend that it is nominating a candidate for the upcoming presidential election. The Islamist group had previously promised not to offer up a candidate for the May 23 election. Now, the Brotherhood's deputy leader, Khairat al-Shater, has created a stir after announcing his candidacy. In Feb., The Blaze speculated that both Egypt and Tunisia could, despite pledges not to do so, end up embracing Islamist constitutions.

But the Muslim Brotherhood could be the least of Christians' worries in Egypt, as other candidates may have more vocally extreme ideologies. Take, for instance, Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, who The New York Times calls "an old-school Islamist. The New York Times has more about his background and the ramifications of his potential control of Egypt:

He wants to move toward abolishing Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel and cites Iran as a successful model of independence from Washington. He worries about the mixing of the genders in the workplace and women’s work outside the home. And he promises to bring extraordinary prosperity to Egypt, if it turns its back on trade with the West. [...]

With a first round of voting set for late May and a runoff in mid-June, the first presidential race here since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak last year is shaping up as a battle among Islamists.

The Brotherhood, which leads Parliament, had pledged not to seek the presidency for fear of provoking a backlash from the Egyptian military and the West. But Mr. Abu Ismail’s surge raises the prospect that the winner might not be a more secular or liberal figure, but a strident Islamist who opposes the Brotherhood’s pragmatic focus on stable relations with the United States and Israel and free-market economics.

Egyptian Christians make up six to 10 percent of the nation's 82 million residents.

(H/T: AFP vis Yahoo!)

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