Egypts Bishops Cautiously Welcome President
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is flanked by high-ranking military personnel as he address soldiers at a checkpoint in El-Arish 10 Aug. An Egyptian Catholic spokesman gave a cautious welcome to Morsis mid-August reshuffling of the military. (photo: CNS/Egyptian Presidency handout via Reuters)
17 Aug 2012 by Michael Gunn
ANTAKYA, Turkey (CNS) — A spokesman for
Egypts bishops gave a cautious welcome to President
Mohammed Morsis reshuffling of top military officials.
Father Rafic Grieche, spokesman for the Egyptian
bishops conference, told Catholic News Service that
Morsis decisions were positive in the sense of politics, but we have to see how he uses these new powers.
In his first month of office, we still havent seen anything positive. He did not implement any law that
would please Christians, said Father Grieche, referring to long-standing demands to reform laws regarding personal status and the right to build churches.
After President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in
February 2011, an Egyptian military council assumed
broad powers, and Morsi was not the militarys favored
candidate in presidential elections earlier this year.
On Aug. 12, Morsi deposed two top generals and
canceled a constitutional decree issued by the military that had stripped the presidency of much of its powers — just before he took office June 30. Morsi replaced that decree with one that gave him broad legislative and executive powers and seemingly brought an end to the militarys 60year dominance of Egyptian politics.
In the time of Mubarakm we couldnt say
Christians were fully protected, said Father Grieche. He said that since the revolution began Jan. 25, 2011, there have been several incidents between Copts and the military.
Christians were not very happy with the army,
either, he said.
Many Egyptian Christians blame the military for
the killing of more than 25 Christian protesters in front of Cairos state TV headquarters last October.
Father Grieche said Morsis mid-August changes
made little difference to worshippers at his Melkite
Catholic Church of St. Cyril in the upscale Cairo
neighborhood of Heliopolis. The parishioners already
were worried by the political gains of Islamist politicians
they are convinced have long-term plans to transform
The priest said many parishioners were anxious,
and several with the means to do so were moving to places
like the Netherlands or the United States.
Youssef Sidhom, editor of Christian weekly
newspaper Watani, admitted that there were serious
concerns about Morsis changes but added that the
situation was more nuanced.
The grave scenario (some believe) is that Morsi
dealt a blow to the military in order to try and adopt his
Islamist agenda, Sidhom told Catholic New Service.
But the presidents retention of two key military
leaders as advisers and his choice of replacements did not
suggest a drastic change in terms of the makeup of the military, Sidhom added.
Giving a civilian president full powers was
remedying a sick situation. It was a step in Egypts favor toward democracy, Sidhom said.
It is true that in the absence of parliament, Morsi has more powers than he had, but this also means he may be forced to speed up elections. We might see these in
three months if he is sensible and avoids further legal
clashes, Sidhom added.
Tags: Middle East Christians Egypt Arab Spring Egypt's Bishops President Mohammed Morsi