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The Copt* In-between the Regime and the Muslim Brotherhood
A translation-with minor clarifications- of an article appeared in Al-Masrion web Site by Dr Rafeeq Habeab, an Egyptian theologian and a political thinker. The latest decision by the president of the Arab Republic of Egypt to delegate power to Governors to deal with applications for demolition and construction of churches, of which previous planning
Tuesday, December 20,2005 00:00
by By Dr Rafeeq Habeab

A translation-with minor clarifications- of an article appeared in Al-Masrion web Site by Dr Rafeeq Habeab, an Egyptian theologian and a political thinker.
The latest decision by the president of the Arab Republic of Egypt to delegate power to Governors to deal with applications for demolition and construction of churches, of which previous planning permissions were approved, as well as delegating power to local councils to deal with applications regarding the refurbishment of churches raises questions as well as suspicions about the timing. Some will see this step as a message to the US Administration as well as to the West indicating that the regime is serious in solving the Copt problems especially after what has been raised of the regime performance at the latest parliamentary elections. This could be true giving the regime’s continuous desire for trade-off with the American Administration’s demands and provisos. However reality confirms that the US Administration was colluding with the regime, in all of his flagrant interferences and breaches during the last elections, out of its desire for the continuation of this regime for the time being.
However the second probability for this decision or rather of its timing has a connection with the stunning success and advances of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in the last parliamentary elections. This is true especially it was mentioned in numerous news digests and analyses that the MB are seriously planning for its parliamentary members to adopt the Christians’ problems including that of building and renovating churches. Whoever follows what has been published of news so far realises that the ruling regime’s apparatuses have indeed observed the serious intention of the MB to adopt some of the Christians contentious issues inside the parliament. We believe that all these observations were recorded in reports and brought to the attention of the regime’s political leadership, the thing that has led to the hastening of the President’s decision. Therefore the conclusions we-i.e. the Christians- drew from this decision are; that it is a message from the regime directed at the Christians and means that it is only the regime which is capable of solving our problems; and it is the regime which has the power to achieve that.
The regime’s desire becomes apparent in keeping the Christian’s problems affair out of debate with the political opposition as well as with other powers calling for reforms and change, including the MB, in order for the Christians not to see a solution for their problems is achievable through the political reforms process that is demanded and called for by many of the new movements and political powers. We also see in that decision a trial to render the Christians into a cross section of the population that is supportive of the ruling regime and its continuation in power, which is a desire that has been surfaced on many occasions. It was apparent that the regime was using the rise of the Islamic stream, especially the MB, to frighten the Christians in order to win their support to stay in power. To this end, it could be also one of the reason for this decision, is to reply in kind to the Egyptian Church’s support for the re-election of the President as well as for its support for the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) in the parliamentary elections, though it did not field a reasonable number of Christians candidates on its parliamentary lists.
We have no doubt in our minds that the regime is trying to monopolise the support of the Christians especially after its loss of the public support became apparent. To this end, the regime uses the problems that are concerning the Christians- and that in part are caused by the regime itself- in a trial to frighten them from any political change. This trial hinges mainly on the consolidation of the Christians status as a one political block as well as trying to confirm their political isolation from the main stream politics and to keep them apart from the different political streams; as if the regime is telling the Christians that the outcome of the election has shown the weakness and irrelevance of the opposition powers and that the only alternative, who are capable of winning the elections, are the MB, and hence there is no alternative for the Christians but to support the regime.
The public media is indeed confirming to us every day that the regime is playing the same tone and hitting on the very chord of scaring the Christians from the MB. The extent of the regime’s fear of a close liaison between the Christians and the MB as a popular political stream becomes very vivid to us in the light of the President’s decision. What I meant by the liaison is the realisation by the Christians of the true MB stance on matters of most concern to us. When the Christians’ fear of the MB vanishes and they no longer dread their realisation and attainment of power this could represent a real danger to the survival of the ruling regime and its clinging to power. The scare mongering game that the regime is playing on both the Christians and the American Administration will cease to have any effect as soon as the Christians know of the true nature of the MB, and thence the regime will no longer be able to sell or to justify its violent interference-its crimes rather, as described lately by Chancellor Abdol-Aziz, the newly re-elected Chairman of the Egyptian Judicial Forum following their exceptional meeting on 16 December 05-against the well of the electorates in any coming elections.
This is not the first instance, whereby the dialogue or the accord between the Christians, as an important cross section of the society and the MB represents for the regime the beginning of the collapse of its systematically structured black propaganda, stereotyping, and smear campaigns against the MB in particular and all of the moderate Islamic groups in general. The moment when the Christians realise that the MB attainment of power does not negatively affect their legal or constitutive status, will undoubtedly be considered as an important indicator as well as a proof of the authenticity of the MB political stances and formal speech which always confirms their wholeheartedly embrace of the rules of the political engagement in accordance with the rule of law and the constitution and in tune with the principles of justice and equality.
In the light of their latest achievement in the parliamentary elections, it becomes incumbent on the MB to reaffirm and consolidate its political vision in order for its political speech to become clearer to all parties. The Group (i.e. the MB) seriously realises the paramount importance of achieving this goal and also realises the importance of clarifying its political stances to the Christians, the very thing that influenced the regimes policy makers and led to this decision. The underlying message is of two folds; One for the Christians as a part of the nation to realise the importance of their engagement with the active political powers as well as becoming a part of the process of change and reforms like others. It is impossible for the Christians to be held indefinitely to ransom by the ruling regime that has often been the cause of many of the problems that led to their suffering. It is also improper for the Christians to be manipulated and used in such a manner that sets them against the legitimate right of the MB to be involved in the political process and to establish its own political party. The regime uses the Christians against popular political powers, namely the Islamic streams including the MB. These manipulations benefit the regime and harm the Christians;
The second for the Ikhwan (the MB) as a part of the active political powers, I say the most active and the most influential of them all, to call the bluff of the regime and to deny it the benefits of playing on the same chord of sectarian tension in order to secure its position and to further consolidate its grip on power.
* Copt is a derivative of the word Egypt and is s a widely used colloquial for Egyptian Christians, though it means, in the old Greek Language, Egyptians, regardless of any religion, creed or colour-

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