Pope: We will never accept a “non-civil state”

Egypt’s Copts do not accept any attempt to change the country’s “civil identity,” the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II, said in comments made public on Monday.

“Egypt has always been a civil state, religion has its own channels, and changing Egypt to a non-civilian state is something we totally, and strongly, reject”.

The pope, speaking in a recorded episode to media host Adel Hammouda on privately-owned Al-Nahar satellite channel on Sunday, was commenting on legislation recently passed by the Shura Council allowing the use of religious slogans in electoral campaigning in the upcoming parliamentary election.

“Religion is tainted and loses its spirituality if mixed up with politics, and this applies to any religion”.

The Shura Council approved the use of religious slogans in election campaigns last week during a discussion on laws governing political rights. The amendments removed a paragraph from the draft law on the House of Representatives election related to the use of religious slogans. Biased campaigning on the basis of religion, as well as gender and origin, remains forbidden, and comes with a punishment of three months in jail and a LE5,000-10,000 fine.

The majority of the Shura Council’s members are from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. Under the 2011 parliamentary elections law, the Brotherhood’s slogan “Islam is the solution” was forbidden.

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