On March, 8th, Coptic intellectual Melad Hanna told the independent daily Al-Misery al-Yaum that he will leave Egypt in the event of the Muslim Brotherhood comes to power.
These statements coincided with the recent major rise of islamic movements in Egypt and Palestine which stirred reactions concerning their creditability and background.
Does the fear of the Brotherhood’s success have historical background? Does Hanna express his own views or reflect the outlook of other Copts?
To find answers to such questions, we interviewed the Copt intellectual Sameh Fawzy who asserted his opposition to Hanna’s stance. Fawzy stressed that Copts will not depart Egypt which is "the home of us and our Muslim brothers.
We, the Copts, refuse to be made into a bugaboo of the Brotherhood’s rise.
I think if the group comes to power, it will not be such scary perspective.
Although Brotherhood’s leaders made numerous statements on this issue, there are still some problems or ambiguous points for most Copts. For example, we have some comments on the Brotherhood’s rhetoric:
- The group’s stance of citizenship is not definite. Here I am not talking about press releases but about an official document that tackles this point in details.
- The Brotherhood’s concept of civil society and the scope of religion in both state and society. We certainly do not deny the role of religion since it is essential but ask about the limits of religion role in community.
- Some published views concerning construction of churches; in particular Mr. Muhammad Abdullah el-Khateb’s, printed in el-Dawaa Magazine of December 8th. While the Brotherhood’s deputy leader Muhammad Habeeb has promised to release a document on Copts, it did not come out yet.
Finally, I would like to assert that there are some concerns of Copts regard the Brotherhood. Nevertheless, they should not be turned into phobia of the Brotherhood. I, on myself, prefer to remain in Egypt if the Brotherhood seizes power and even if I disapprove its ideologies. However, I think it is neither acceptable nor wise to make Copts a bargaining card."
Commenting on these points, the Brotherhood’s deputy leader Muhammad Habeeb said that "these worries are untrue. Hanna’s statements are mere exaggeration and pressure on the Brotherhood and Egyptians not to admit the outcome of the last parliamentary polls.
Dr. Hanna knows very well that our stance regard Copts is very explicit since the foundation of the group. For example, some Copt leaders have been joined the group’s Political Committee at the time of Imam Hassan el-Banah, the group’s founder.
Moreover, we repeatedly stressed that Copts are a segment of the society fabric, are first-class citizens, and are our country partners.
We reemphasize that the standards for occupying state posts are only governed by competence and qualification disregard race or religion.
We are very eager not to isolate out Copt brothers but keen to integrate them in the political domain.
In practical replay on these concerns, our MPs have visited most of churches.
As for the expected document, Habeeb said it is being prepared. However, some engagements prevent it from being come out soon, especially amid security pressures practiced against the group recently."