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By Michael Terheyden

7/14/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

After the sweeping victory of the Tamarod protests (the rebel campaign), Muslim groups and Coptic Christians received a real scare when they first saw the 33-article constitutional declaration. According to news reports, some members of the coalition groups had rejected the declaration.

Adly Mansour, the interim president of Egypt

Adly Mansour, the interim president of Egypt

Highlights

By Michael Terheyden

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/14/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Egypt, Muslim, Coptic, Christian, Tamarod, Constitutional Declaration, Adly Mansour, Michael Terheyden


KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - After the sweeping victory of the Tamarod protests (the rebel campaign), Muslim groups and Coptic Christians received a real scare when they first saw the 33-article constitutional declaration. According to news reports, some members of the coalition groups had rejected the declaration. One report said the Maspero Youth Union, a Coptic group, called it shocking.

The 33-article declaration was released on Monday, July 8, 2013. It is meant to be the roadmap for Egypt going forward until the new government is in place, hopefully six months from now. But it is not compatible with the ideals of the Tamarod protest as it stands.

One of the main criticisms against the declaration concerns the first article. It states, "that the Arab Republic of Egypt is a democratic system based on citizenship, that Islam is the religion of the state, Arabic is its official language and the principles of sharia law derived from established Sunni canons are its main source of legislation." Article 1 of the declaration reportedly combines articles 1, 2 and 219 from the suspended 2012 Islamist constitution that Morsi tried to impose on all Egyptians.

Article 2 in the Egyptian Constitution has long been a bone of contention for Coptic Christians, for it discriminates against non-Muslims and women, especially Coptic women. The Copts petitioned for its removal under Egypt's former president, Hosni Mubarak. It reads as follows: "Islam is the state religion, and the Arabic language is its official language. The principles of Islamic sharia are the main source of legislation."

However, Article 2 was generally interpreted loosely under Mubarak. This was not the case when Morsi became president. Under Morsi, Article 2 was retained and Article 219 was added. The purpose of Article 219 was to tie Article 2 more tightly to Islamic law in terms of Sunni Muslim jurisprudence. This further strengthened sharia law in Egypt.

While Article 1 is probably the main concern of the 33-article declaration released on July 8, there are other concerns as well. The declaration also gives the interim president Adly Mansour a great deal of authority; it retains military trials for civilians; it appears to limit freedom of expression and freedom of association.

Some people believe that the Salafist Nour Party, which is Islamist and came in second after the Muslim Brotherhood during the 2011-2012 parliamentary elections, is responsible for this first draft, and that they pressured Mansour during the shaping of the declaration.

However, the interim president indicated that this was not the final draft, and that he would address the collective concerns of the members of the Tamarod coalition and amend the constitutional declaration prior to the final draft, which is expected in a month. It appears that the news reports were premature, but only time will tell for sure.

Liberal and moderate Muslims and Coptic Christians had high hopes two and a half years ago that they would share in the Arab Spring. But thus far the Arab Spring has only benefited Islamists in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa. It has been an utter failure for Christians, many of whom have suffered increased persecution, even martyrdom.

Premature or not, these latest reports about the constitutional declaration remind us that millions of Muslims and Christians in Egypt want to be free and live in peace. They want a chance for a better life, and they are fed up being lied to, manipulated and oppressed by their leaders in government. I think these determined, brave Egyptian souls are an inspiration for us all, and they give us all hope.

According to some reports, it seems somewhere between 15 and 17 million Egyptians stood up to Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. They stood up to a powerful, corrupt organization that grabbed power through the democratic process in order to transform Egypt into an oppressive Islamic theocracy. The Tamarod Protest will go down in history as a reminder to all people that they can do it too.

The Tamarod protest is also a reminder to Americans. The Obama administration is possibly the most corrupt and divisive administration in the history of the United States. We are experts in democracy. We have more legitimate avenues for political dissent than most people have ever dreamed of. If so many brave Egyptian souls can take back their government, then the American people can take back their government too!

Let us pray for a peaceful and successful transition in Egypt. Let us also pray for all those who are being oppressed throughout the world and for freedom and peace in our own countries.
 

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Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.

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