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Coptic Christians call for a secular Egypt

Catholic World News - February 22, 2011

Amid fears that a post-Mubarak Egypt will become increasingly Islamist, thousands of Coptic Christians marched in Cairo on February 20 to demand the removal of Article 2 from the Egyptian constitution. Article 2 reads: “Islam is the religion of the state. Arabic is its official language, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic jurisprudence (Sharia).”

“We sacrificed our souls for the sake of Egypt, and our aim was a civil state, not a religious one,” said one protestor, referring to Christians who were slain by security forces during the recent uprising against the regime of Hosni Mubarak.

Father David-Maria Jaeger, who helped negotiate the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel, says that the majority of Egyptians do not want “precisely the kind of theocratic state that the Muslim Brotherhood or similar organizations are working for.” However, he cautions, when the Shah of Iran’s regime fell in 1979, the majority of Iranians did not want an Islamic state; “what the Khomeini forces were able to do was ride the crest of that wave and use it for their purposes.”

“If there is no alternative vision to that of the Islamists, then the Islamists are left to be the only ones proposing a coherent program.”

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