Monday, April 16, 2012

Paradoxes of religious freedom in Egypt

By Tamir Moustafa and Asifa Quraishi-Landes, Reposted from The Immanent Frame 

The place of religion in the political order is arguably the most contentious issue in post-Mubarak Egypt.  With Islamist-oriented parties controlling over 70 percent of seats in the new People’s Assembly and the constitution-writing process about to begin, liberals and leftists are apprehensive about the implications for Egyptian law and society, including the rights of Egypt’s millions of Coptic Christians.

Mindful of these anxieties and pragmatic in its approach, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) has backed away from earlier calls for an “Islamic state.”  Its 2011 election platform opts instead to promote the sharia as a “frame of reference. ”  Working hard to assuage anxieties both at home and abroad, the Party explicitly calls for a “civil state” and repeatedly stresses the importance of equality of citizenship among Muslims and Christians:

"Egyptians, Muslims and Christians, are integral parts of the fabric of the one homeland, with equal rights and duties, and without distinction or discrimination, and all together they must remove the injustice inflicted upon them."

Yet the FJP operationalizes this commitment to equal citizenship and religious freedom by declaring further that, “the basis of citizenship is full equality before the Constitution and the law and fully sharing all rights and duties, with the exemption of