Islamic Caliphate? Growing Persecution of Coptic Christians Under Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood
Islamists want to apply Shari'a law especially with regard to women. It is very bad for women and very bad for non-Muslims in society."
Saying that the constitution is "not good news" and "does not take into consideration human rights for all," Bishop Aziz said the constitution implicitly sanctions child labor, only warning against forcing youngsters to do work that is too demanding for them.
Citing Article 219, Bishop William said, "The constitution not only outlines the principles of Shari'a, but describes in detail all of the values and opinions contained in the Shari'a. It will be terrible: everything will be interpreted according to Shari'a."
The bishops said that this heavy insistence on Shari'a undermined the credibility of Article 3 in the constitution which asserts the rights of Christians and Jews as well as Muslims.
Describing the constitution as the work of fundamentalist Muslims, Bishop Zakaria said, "It was already hard to get permission to repair a church in [former] President Mubarak's time, now it will be ever harder."
"But it will be much worse for Shiite Muslims, Baha'is, Buddhists and others who are not even recognized in the constitution."
Both Bishops William and Aziz accused the government of severe electoral malpractice in last month's constitution referendum and that with a voter turn-out of only 33 percent the President had no right to pass it into law.
Bishop William referred to reports that ballot slips rejecting the constitution had been found in toilets and that pro-constitution campaigners had bribed voters with oil, rice and other goods.
The referendum followed long-running controversy over the drafting of the constitution.
The Coptic Orthodox Church withdrew in April 2012 from the talks on the constitution in protest at the reportedly Islamist content proposed. Coptic Catholic and Protestant representatives quickly followed suit. Secular parties also later pulled out.
The bishops said that the parliamentary elections due later this year will be a vote of confidence on the new constitution and the government's handling of it.
Bishop William said: "The people should fight for their rights. The Church cannot speak in their name, but we can make people aware of the issues through our Justice and Peace committees."
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Coptic Christians, Coptic Orthodox, Coptic Catholic, persecution, Morsi, Muslim brotherhood, Islamic caliphate, anti-Catholic, anti-Orthodox, anti-Christian, Morsi, Deacon Keith Fournier
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