Prime minister announces committee to tackle sectarian issues

Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf has announced that he will form a National Justice Committee (NJC) within the cabinet to combat attempts at igniting sectarian strife, address sectarian issues and propose effective solutions.

Sharaf says that in order to guarantee the rights and freedoms of all citizens, the committee will be responsible for preparing a draft law criminalizing all forms of discrimination in accordance with the provisions of the constitutional declaration. The committee will also be charged with considering a unified law for constructing places of worship within a period of 30 working days.

During his meeting with members of the proposed committee, Sharaf responded to requests he received for closed churches to be reopened and ordered a case-by-case investigation into the reasons behind their closure. He went on to say that he would apply the law prohibiting the use of religious slogans and would prevent protests from taking place outside places of worship.

On Wednesday, prior to his trip to Ethiopia, Sharaf met with a delegation of Coptic protesters outside the Egyptian Radio and Television Union building. He told them that the government was intent on solving the problems of Egypt’s Christian citizens and would oppose anyone trying to ignite sectarian strife.

Meanwhile, Ibram Lewis, a Coptic protester, insisted the sit-in would continue until closed churches have been reopened and Copts arrested in protests against sectarianism have been released.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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