• April 24, 2010

Egypt: Lack of political participation for Christians, women

Egypt: Lack of political participation for Christians, women

CAIRO: The third annual report on the status of democracy in Egypt, issued by the Observatory of the State of Democracy of Egyptian Society for the Advancement of Community Participation revealed that the participation rates of women, in general, and Christians in elections, whether voting or nominations, is still low and has been reduced to almost zero.

In most elections, which was monitored by the observatory via media reports of elections in the country, has said low rates of participation of women and Christians, “both in the nomination process or voting, [saw] a reduced success rate, as only four women won seats in the last parliamentary elections that were held in 2005, while only one woman won a seat in the Shura Council Elections.”

The study took three years to complete.

Only one Coptic candidate won a seat in the Parliamentary elections in 2005, “while he was the Minister of Finance at the same time,” the report stated.

In this context, the report monitored sectarianism, which controlled the lawyers and actors syndicates throughout 2009. The report quoted a statement by Coptic Pope Shenouda III from one of his interviews with an independent newspaper, where he was asked about his opinion on the nomination of a Copt for president. He replied: “it is impossible … when we see any Coptic winning lawyers Syndicate elections, we can talk about Presidential elections.”

The report said that through such phenomena Egyptian society suffers from “discrimination on the basis of religion.

“Intolerance against Christians is clearly significant and the culture of [the] society considers them second-class citizens.”

The study added that “what applies to Christians applies to women. There is weak electoral participation for women,” where the report said that female participation in the 2009 election 2009 was merely percent “in the complementary elections of the People`s Assembly, while it was zero percent in the elections Lawyers syndicate and the Judges Club Egypt and in the elections judges of the Council of Alexandria.”

The highest participation rate for women, according to the report, was in the elections of the Actors Union, with some 25 percent.

The report also pointed to the phenomenon of intolerance and tribalism. “Elections resolved according to influential individuals, families and tribes in Upper Egypt and Sinai tribes,” the study said was partially responsible for the deterioration of women’s rights in the country.

The report emphasized that “we cannot talk about free and fair elections without real participation and unless the citizens in Egypt are convinced that their participation will improve their economic and social development.”

The Observatory said that the a “true democracy wouldn’t be achieved without a minimum level of social justice.”

Republished with permission from bikya masr