Church leaders at odds over planned 25 January demonstrations

Emad Khalil
Ragab Ramadan
11/01/2012

Religious figures from different Egyptian Christian sects have taken opposing stances on the involvement of Copts in the planned protests on 25 January, one year after the start of the Egyptian uprising.

Some church leaders have called on Coptic Christians to boycott the demonstrations, while others have encouraged participation. In defense of the boycott, some church leaders say that the democratic transition is being conducted in accordance with the timetable set by the military council.

“Egypt is moving towards democracy, and the parliamentary elections were fair,” said Shubra al-Khaima Bishop Morkos. “What we need now is presidential elections and a new constitution.”

“The military council committed itself to handing over power in June,” he said, adding that the council should be given the opportunity to fulfill the pledge as long it is abiding by the deadline.

However, Andrea Zaki, vice president of the Evangelical Communion, believes Copts should participate in the demonstrations. “The Evangelical Church, which supported the revolution in its early days, will not abandon it until all demands are met,” he said. “Copts seek the best for their country.”

Catholic Church spokesman Rafiq Greish said the church will not forbid anyone from participating. He said the demonstrations should be non-violent and festive.

Mina Thabet of the Maspero Youth Union said that if the Coptic movements decide to take part, the union will join them.

Haitham Kamil, a member of the Copts Without Restrictions Movement, said it is not up to the church to decide on the matter.

Meanwhile, leaders of the Alexandria Orthodox, Catholic and Anglican churches said participation is a personal matter that has nothing to do with the church.

Johanna George, priest of the Alexandria Church of the Resurrection, said there are no instructions from the Patriarch of Catholics to participate in the demonstrations. He added that he personally prefers to hold off on demonstrations until June when the military council is due to hand over power.

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