President Morsi shuns Egypt’s Copts from upcoming polls

Mohammed-Morsi

How would you keep millions of opposition voters away from the polls?  Easy…call an election during their religious holiday. Peter Tadros writes the latest statement on behalf of The Australian Coptic Movement Association.

 

The Australian Coptic Movement Association (ACM) condemns President Morsi’s decision to hold new parliamentary elections on the most sacred period in the Coptic Calendar, Christian Easter Celebrations. Coptic clergy and activists alike have voiced their anger over what is clearly an attempt to solidify the Islamist domination of the Egyptian parliament so that they can implement the radical agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood and their Islamist allies.

The decision effectively excludes Copts from the democratic process. In an interview with the Egyptian Independent on the 22nd February 2013, Bishop Marcos of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Shoubra Al Kheima was reported as stating “Coptic voter participation would be affected by these dates, and that he hopes the president would change his mind”

Its unsurprising considering Egypt’s Ministry of Education has been renowned for notoriously setting exams on or around key Coptic Christian feast days. Egypt’s Copts make up the largest non-Muslim minority in all the MENA regions. The total number of Copts in Egypt is itself an issue of great contention as the Egyptian Government refuses to release credible accounts and usually underestimate the real total population however loose estimates suggestions that the number of Copts in Egypt could be as high as 15 million or more and at least 5 million would be of voting age.

The Coptic Calendar is a continuation of the Ancient Egyptian calendar. The calendar has 13 months, 12 of 30 days each and an intercalary month at the end of the year of 5 or 6 days depending whether the year is a leap year or not. The year starts on 11 September in the Gregorian Calendar or on the 12th in the year before (Gregorian) Leap Years. The Coptic Leap Year follows the same rules as the Gregorian so that the extra month always has 6 days in the year before a Gregorian Leap Year.

The first round of the parliamentary elections are scheduled for the 27-28 April 2013 coincide with the beginning of the Holy Week and Palm Sunday and the runoffs scheduled for 4-5 May 2013 which is the celebration of the Holy Saturday and Easter.

President Morsi was controversially elected as Egypt’s first President last June. He promised to be a President for all Egyptians however during this short tenure attacks against Coptic Christians have escalated with scores killed and Egypt and many Coptic owned Churches, homes and business destroyed.

On the 13th October 2011, Australia’s Federal Parliament passed a motion in both houses condemning the ongoing attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt. The following day an identical motion was passed in the Legislative Council of NSW.

We note that on the 4th September 2012, The Hon. Senator Bob Carr met with President Morsi and Foreign Minister Kamel Amr in Cairo. During this visit the Hon. Senator noted Australia’s large Coptic community and their concerns. In addition, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has also met with Egypt’s president as recently as 26/09/2012, just prior to Australia gaining its historic UN seat.

The attacks on Copts have become so regular that only the major attacks are reported in the media. Australia’s seat on the UN Security Council presents a valuable opportunity to uphold Australian values of justice and freedom especially since these were the main goals of the Egyptian revolution. The revolution has since been hijacked by Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists and Jihadists and these same groups make up the majority of the members who wrote Egypt’s new constitution.

The controversial constitution does not represent the cultural, religious, ethnic, and political diversity of Egyptian society. Furthermore, the constitution failed to uphold the objectives of the January 25 revolution and undermines the values of citizenship, equality, freedom, and human rights.

The constitution that has been drafted leaves the door wide open to the creation of a religious state, which poses severe challenges to rights and freedoms.

We cannot think of a better time than now in light of Australia’s presence at the UN Security Council for the Australian Government to continue to advocate on behalf of the Coptic Minority in Egypt who represent one of the largest non-Muslim group throughout the entire MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. The very existence of all other minority groups in the MENA region rests with the fate of the Copts. If the Copts cannot be protected then assuredly no other minorities in the region will survive.

The ACM calls on the Senator Hon. Bob Carr and the Australian Government to fully implement the motion on Coptic Christians that was passed on 13 October 2011. Dispatching the Australian Ambassador in Cairo to visit a few Coptic Churches and meeting church officials is not the answer. Australia’s Coptic Community expects more from Australia’s Federal Government in light of the recent escalation in violence against Copts and the undemocratic actions of Egypt’s Presidents which have been criticised by a wide cross section of the Egyptian community both in Egypt and in the diaspora.

Peter Tadros is a co-founder of The Australian Coptic Movement Association who has spent most of his teenage and adult life fighting for the rights of Egypt’s Coptic Christians. An avid human rights advocate, Peter is a spokesperson and media contact for the ACM. You can contact Peter via peter@auscma.com.


The Australian Coptic Movement Association’s operating costs are run purely on the donations received by its supporters and the tireless work of its volunteers. Please donate to our cause by clicking ‘Donate’ above and help the Copts promote their rights and their community. All donations greater than $2 are 100% tax deductible.

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