European Union must put pressure on Egypt
Father Rafik Greiche, media spokesman of the Egyptian Catholic Bishops' Conference, has called on the European governments to put pressure on the leadership in Cairo in view of the national crisis in his country.
Speaking to international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), he said, "The European Union must make it clear to President Mursi and his government that they have to observe human rights.”
“The militias of the Muslim Brotherhood have threatened people demonstrating peacefully against the President's policy. This is just as unacceptable as the text put forward for the future Egyptian constitution."
Father Greiche was referring here to the draft constitution which President Mohammed Mursi would like to put to the people in a referendum on December 15.
The large-scale demonstrations currently taking place in Egypt are aimed among other things at this draft.
In November the representatives of the Christian churches and the liberal parties had already withdrawn from the committee which was to draw up the new constitution in protest against Islamist tendencies.
Nevertheless the remaining members of the committee adopted the draft on November 30 in an all-night session.
Greiche commented, "It simply wasn't right to rush through such a crucial text on the nod and to put it the people without the chance of a genuine public debate."
However, Father Greiche was not surprised at the direction taken in the draft constitution, "Whenever Islam becomes politicized it automatically turns into a fascist dictatorship. Then comes the impending threat that the sharia in its most fundamental form will be introduced.”
“And this affects not only Christians, but all Egyptians who want freedom and justice."
Among other things he criticized the fact that the wording of a whole series of articles in the constitution was so open that a fundamentalist interpretation was possible.
As to the question of possible ways out of Egypt's current national crisis, Greiche said, "If the President still has a modicum of wisdom then he must start a genuine dialogue with all political groups in the country.”
“We don't need any false dialogues. All the offers made to date have only been tricks."
But the Catholic Church in Egypt, with a following of about 250,000 believers, does not intend to call for a boycott of the referendum: "Of course, we won't tell the people what to do. But we certainly won't encourage them to vote in favor of the draft constitution."