Copts welcome illegalization of religion-based parties

A new law which prohibits the establishment of parties based on religious or geographical grounds has caused conflicting reactions among various political forces in Egypt. On Wednesday, the Egyptian government approved a proposed amendment to Law 40 of 1977, which regulates the foundation of political parties which would allow parties to be established by notification, while preventing the establishment of parties based on religion.

Expert of Islamic movements Diaa Rashwan said the law is a positive step that will shield Egypt from sectarian divisions. He went on to say that the danger of establishing parties based on religious grounds did not apply to the Brotherhood, as they are a political group, not a political party, and have the right to become incorporated within the political fabric of the state. Examples of religion-based political parties include a Christian, Salafi or Bahaii Party.

Meanwhile, Hamed al-Dafrawy, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's internal opposition, who is preparing to establish a new party, said that the new party will not be based on religious grounds. He rejects the interference of religion with politics. “No one front should try to force a certain religious view on people by introducing it into politics affairs,” he said.

On the other hand, Lawyer Naguib Gibrail expressed his happiness with the proposed amendments, saying they help achieve the demands of the revolution which calls for a civil state. He went on to say that they pave the way to party pluralism based on non-sectarian notions of citizenship.

He went on to say that “if the MB establishes a party based on religious grounds, this would open the door to all religious sects establishing similar parties which threaten the country’s security.”

“My party is called the Free Egyptian, and over 65 percent of its members are Muslims, although the founder is a Copt, but this doesn’t mean that the party is exclusively for Copts,” he said, describing his experience in establishing the new party.

Coptic activist Sherif Dos welcomed the proposed amendments. He noted his prior call for Christians to join existing parties or establish new ones, and he warned of the dangers behind religion-based politics.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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