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International Relations, PUBLICATIONS

Egypt’s new constitution and religious minorities’ rights: Prospects of improvement? 

The longstanding issue of discrimination against religious minorities has worsened in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, even more so since the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi in July 2013. The Copts, by far the largest minority representing 6-9% of the population, have faced violent retaliation from Muslim Brotherhood (MB) supporters, who accuse Christians of being behind the coup. This is taking place in a general climate of impunity, fuelled by insufficient reactions by the security forces which fail to tackle sectarian violence.

Egypt's new constitution and religious minorities' rights: Prospects of improvement?

© gracel21 / Fotolia

In this tense situation, the new constitution, approved by referendum on 14-15 January 2014, has been welcomed by the majority of Copts as offering them better protection than the previous charter, adopted under Muslim Brotherhood rule. Indeed some highly criticised provisions, such as the article on blasphemy or the broad definition of Sharia principles (although still the main source of law) were eliminated. Furthermore the Copts managed to have included in the new charter the promise of a law on church construction and renovation, to be adopted by the new legislature. But Islam remains the state religion. This, coupled with the weak implementation of existing provisions protecting minorities, including a lack of punishment of perpetrators of sectarian violence, leaves room for further discriminatory practices and sectarian unrest. Moreover, smaller religious minorities do not benefit from the existing protection which covers only Coptic Christians and Jews (of which there are only some 70 in the country in any case).

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2 thoughts on “Egypt’s new constitution and religious minorities’ rights: Prospects of improvement? 

  1. I had to bring in mind that following a dense protestation of the population (27million=1/3of the Egyptian population) after 1 year of MB regime. Army gives MB President a delay of 2 days to make a positive reaction to what the population ask for.
    The sitting of Rabaa was another way to worsen and rot the climate of dialog.

    If the MB stays legal in Egypt, they will have the right to continue making violence like what they did during a year after 25th revolution, attacking ministries, administrations, destabilizing borders with Israel and blocking the economy.

    Before declaring MB illegal in Egypt, the transition regime, never stop to propose to MB an involvement in political process. The answer was constantly no dialog.

    Until now the violence continue against transition regime, minorities and Israel borders. The regime has actually a legal tool to stop them and limit their action.

    What we hope is that after a normalisation period, were institutions come back, and violence stops. The Egyptian MB come back as B and not as MB: as new constitution prohibit religious parties, to be involved in an Egyptian democratic political process.
    Still that history of MB in Egypt since the 1940th was Brainwashing, indoctrination, and if this is not enough, uses the violence. The treatment of the violence issue in 1960th by Nasser, give birth to Jihad groups all around the world.
    Finally the principal of society moralization is not reached but the opposite to it.
    Conclusion, MB of Egypt, takes the bad direction contrary of Turkish, Tunisians, Jordanians or morocco who understand the political game and play it.

    This makes the difference. So if you like Jihad groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Algeria, Mali, the 9/11 and in Europe. You will be in love with Egyptian MB.


    Posted by Charles Raynaud | January 24, 2014, 14:45


  1. Pingback: EU, the Mediterranean and the Middle East – In Focus | European Parliamentary Research Service - January 24, 2014

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