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Coptic Christians Quit Egypt Constitution Talks

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As the highly awaited new Egyptian constitution is being drafted, the nation’s Coptic Orthodox Church announced over the weekend its withdrawal from a panel charged with writing it, saying Islamist domination of the panel made its participation “pointless.”

Church representatives suggested that minorities, including Christians, were outnumbered in the panel, just as they are outnumbered in the government and the country, and that they would therefore be unable to exert any influence over the document. It has now become a concern that the new constitution could end up being written entirely by Islamist politicians without full consideration of minority groups.

“The Coptic Orthodox Church General Council agreed with the approval of all of the council’s 20 members to withdraw from the constitutional assembly‚Ķ as it found it was pointless for the church to be represented following the comments made by the national forces about the way the assembly was formed,” a state news agency said, quoting a church statement.

In the panel counting 100 people, Christians and other minorities – including only six women – were far outnumbered. The Church is the latest institution to pull out of the panel whose members were chosen by the recently-elected, mostly-Islamist parliament, consisting of Freedom and Justice, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Nour party, an ultraconservative Islamist party. The Church joined calls from liberal and women groups to withdraw from the panel and boycott the Islamist-dominated body, saying that it fails to represent the interests of the entire Egyptian society.

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