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Maspero Coptic group proposes amendments to Egyptian constitution

The Maspero Youth Union proposed amendments related to religious rights

Salma Shukrallah , Wednesday 25 Sep 2013
 Maspero Youth Union
Maspero Youth Union march mourning those killed in Khusus sectarian clashes in April,2013 (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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The Maspero Youth Union, a Coptic youth movement, met on Wednesday with the 50-member committee charged with amending the constitution, to propose several amendments to the charter.

According to union member Bishoy Tamry, the group proposed amendments to articles related to religious rights and issues.

The activist told Ahram Online that the group "is against any religious article including Article 2" which states "Islam is the main source of legislation." The group also proposes that an article is included that states Egypt is a "civil state."

The group also proposed amending Article 3, which states that Christians and Jews have their religions as the main source of legislation for personal status laws. Tamry said that the group proposed the article include other religions, instead of Christianity and Judaism only.

The activist group also suggested the removal of the phrase "without violation of the principles of Islamic sharia" in Article 11, which states that the state should guarantee equality between women and men in the political, social, cultural and economic spheres.

Tamry also stated that the group proposed adding an article that criminalises religious discrimination.

Islamist parties, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, dominated the constituent assembly which drafted the 2012 constitution. The constitution was frozen after the ouster of the Brotherhood's Morsi on 3 July, and is currently being amended.

The Maspero Youth Union is a Coptic youth group which sprang up shortly after the 2011 revolution to agitate for Christians' rights. The group became well-known for their opposition to military rule after Hosni Mubarak's ouster.

There is no official account of the number of Christian Egyptians but they are estimated at around 10 percent of the population.

Sectarian violence has been on the increase over the past years during which churches as well as shops and homes owned by Copts have in several occasions become the targets of attack.

In August, sixteen rights groups issued a joint statement expressing "grave concern regarding the increasing sectarian violence which has targeted Christians and their churches since the June 30 uprising.”

The rights groups condemned what they described as “clear incitement to violence and religious hatred” by the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies.

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