Coptic activist joins Nour Party's electoral list, causing ripples

Zeinab El-Gundy , Wednesday 28 Jan 2015

According to the parliamentary elections law, party-based lists should include Christians and women

Coptic Activist Nader El-Serafy (Photo: Courtesy of Serafy Facebook page)

Coptic activist Nader El-Serafy announced Wednesday that he has joined the ultra-conservative Salafist Nour Party's electoral list in upcoming parliamentary elections.

El-Serafy, who is also member of the Ghad El-Thawra Party, defended his decision on his Facebook page, saying that the Church was not against the decision of Christians to join the Nour Party list, quoting an old interview with Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church.

The new parliamentary elections law issued in 2014 stipulates that each list of party-based candidates must include three women, three Coptic Christians, and two representing farmers and workers.

Nader El-Sarafy is one of the co-founders of the "Copts 38" movement that demands the Egyptian Coptic Church allow divorce. Established in 2011, the movement demands the Egyptian Coptic Church reimplement 1938 bylaws that permitted Coptic Christians to obtain a divorce under nine specified conditions.

The Orthodox Coptic Church only allows divorce in case of adultery. The partner that has committed adultery is not granted remarriage after — only the partner is granted remarriage.

Al-Watan Coptic newspaper reported earlier this week that there had been several resignations in the "Copts 38" movement over the decision of El-Serafy to join the Nour Party list because of the Salafist party's views on Christians. 

Earlier this month, Galal El-Mor, a leading member of the Nour Party, stated that the party did not mind having unveiled women or Christians on its electoral list, marking a sweeping change in the position of the ultra-conservative party on both women and Christians. 

In the 2011 parliamentary elections, the Nour Party — the political arm of Egypt's largest Salafist group, the Salafist Calling — came under fire for using flowers in place of women's faces on its flyers and posters promoting its electoral lists. 

The party also was criticised after Salafist scholars prohibited Muslims from celebrating Christmas or Easter with Christians.

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