Churches withdraw from national dialogue

Egypt’s three Coptic churches announced their final withdrawal from national dialogue sessions being conducted by the presidency with political and community groups to reach political consensus.

Churches said the withdrawal came because of the “futility of dialogue,” after a meeting between representatives of the Coptic Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical churches.

Coptic Catholic Church spokesperson Father Rafiq Grish told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the churches withdrew because the dialogue “brought about no results.”

Other parties participating in the national dialogue sessions, which the presidency has been using to help draft the electoral law and amendments to the controversial new Constitution, have also declared their withdrawal, after the elections law passed by the Shura Council last week violated what had been agreed upon during the national dialogue sessions.

“We have seen the statement of the parties participating in the dialogue in which they decided to suspend their participation in the dialogue,” Grish said. “When we discussed, for example, the women’s quota, and raised it with the Freedom and Justice Party, it was approved, but when it was put to the vote in the Shura Council, they rejected the idea.”

He said church representatives have not put forth the idea of allocating a representation quota for Copts, thought civil parties involved suggested it. The idea was rejected of illogical reasons, he said, such as that if it is approved, it would open the door for all social groups to demand quotas as well.

“When we participated in the national dialogue, we sought the benefit of the nation, not to get privileges for the church,” said Grish.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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