Conference on Anti-Discrimination calls on Freedom of Belief and Abolition of Sharia Article from Egyptian Constitution

Under the motto "You are the Homeland: Dream of what you want", the First Cairo Conference on Anti-Discrimination was held from 27-29 March 2009.

The Conference discussed ways for promoting progress towards a secular society without the ‘Wahhabi’ ideological incursions and without the religionalization of the State and politicians.

Renown Muslim and Copt lawyers, human rights and civil organizations from inside and outside of Egypt, besides liberal political parties attended the conference.

The Conference saw the first public appearance of Muslim Convert to Christianity Mohammad Hegazy (Bishoy) who spoke about the problems facing the Muslim-born converts to Christianity in Egypt.

Over two days the conference held meetings, discussions and workshops, against discrimination in Egypt. The common law of places of worship, discrimination against women, the Media and the Cinema were discussed. The Conference witnessed live testimonies of discrimination and persecution in Egypt.

Several discussions took place on the current status of freedom of belief in Egypt where Priest Refaat Fikry gave a speech to a session about "towards a progressive secular society", in which liberal political party leaders and the Youth against Discrimination YAD Movement also contributed.

The crisis of ABu Fana Monastery was discussed, highlighting the complicity of the state security agencies with the State and the Muslim fanatics.

Problems of the Muslim-born converts into Christianity were discussed in the session "Converts: a minority within a minority".

Three documentaries were shown during the Conference; the first was on the attacks and torture of the monks at Abu-Fana Monastery May 2008, the second on the assassination of Coptic jewelers in Zeitun, and the third film was a documentary on the detainment of the Coptic activist Dr Adel Fawzy Faltas and the abuses he suffered on the hands of the State Security, which even after his release shamefully concealed his information from the computers of the Passport Office to prevent him from travelling outside Egypt.

The Cairo Conference was organized by the Egyptian Organization for Anti- Discrimination and Defense of the Child’s rights (EGHR), in cooperation with the Coptic Assembly of America (CAA), Youth against Discrimination (YAD), Egyptian Centre for Development and Human Rights.

Coptic advocacies from outside Egypt included beside the co-organizer CAA, United Copts of Great Britain.

The conference came out with the most daring recommendations until the present mainly:

The symbol of citizenship for 2009 is Dr.ADEL FAWZY FALTAS.

The call for the elimination of all kinds of discrimination, especially religious discrimination in all its form, both from the Constitution and from the different laws, education or media.

To work towards activating the first article of the Egyptian Constitution, which emphasizes the full citizenship rights for Egyptians and the abolition of the second article of the Constitution.

The issuance of the common law of places of worship, without any interference whatsoever from the security agencies.

The deletion of the religious affiliation box from identity cards of all Egyptian citizens.

Egypt’s commitment to all international conventions signed and ratified by Egypt and to put them into practice.

The parties and all organizations and individuals participating in this conference should activate these recommendations, and submit them to the agencies concerned and the People’s Assembly and Shoura Council.

The Egyptian organizations outside Egypt (the American Coptic Assembly – Copts-United in Great Britain) should present these recommendations to the Egyptian ambassador in their countries to be presented officially to the responsible agencies in Egypt.

The emphasis on the eligibility of the Egyptian citizen anywhere to believe in any religion of which he is convinced, in all freedom, without any interference from any security authority.

To put an end to the predominance of the security agencies over all religious minorities, and to discuss all issues related to them objectively and with impartiality in order to stop the sectarian tension.

Enactment of legislation to criminalize those who incite murder (of Apostates) by tough punishment and the abolition of the article (98 f) of the penal code.

The immediate and unconditional release of all detainees and those sentenced in the cases of freedom of opinion and expression, creativity and first of all the Egyptian Blogger Karim Amer.

Limiting the role of Al Azhar Mosque and University to just the teaching of religious science and to make all its affiliated colleges which teaches civilian subjects open to all Egyptian students without regard to the beliefs of others and to abolish the supervisory role of Al Azhar and Dar el Eftaa on the freedom of opinion, creativity and expression.

The abolition of the religious curriculum at all levels of education and replacing it with ethics and citizenship subjects based on human rights, and the deletion of all religious texts from the rest of the educational materials especially in the Arabic language.

Refinement of all political parties’ programs from all religious texts which leads to religious discrimination and sectarian tension.

Translated into English by Voice of the Copts

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