Daily News, Egypt, August 1
On Monday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States is concerned with a rise in religious discrimination in Egypt in the wake of Islamist President Mohamed Morsy’s ascension to power and media reports of sectarian violence and discrimination. Mahmud Ghozlan, media spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood (pictured), has responded that the statements are incorrect: “Non-Muslims in Egypt receive equal rights to Muslims in terms of freedom of worship and public freedoms.”
Dr Naguib Gabriel, head of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights, however, agreed with the contents of the US State Department’s report on International Religious Freedoms. “Religious freedoms in Egypt [are] actually worse off than they were before. Morsy’s government is incapable of protecting Copts or including them within the national scene.” Gabriel cited the constituent assembly’s religious makeup as a reason. The assembly came under fire from religious and rights advocates due to a proposed amendment to article two of the Constitution, which only grants followers of the three heavenly religions – Islam, Christianity and Judaism – the right to practice their religions openly.
“This is only normal,” Ghozlan said, advocating the amendment: “We don’t want to have new sects like the fire worshippers exercising their beliefs in a way which goes against general order and threatens national security.” Ghozlan furthermore promised the inclusion of the Baha’i faith as one of the religions which shall not be openly practiced under the proposed amendment, describing the Baha’i faith as “being of a Zionist origin.” However Ghozlan said the amendment would still grant Shias the right to practice their beliefs openly “as long as they don’t strive for Shia expansion.”