• February 28, 2010

ElBaradei pushes on in Egypt, gets Coptic support

ElBaradei pushes on in Egypt, gets Coptic support

CAIRO: After agreeing with a number of representatives of opposition forces in Egypt to form a “National Assembly for Change,” whose primary objective is to bring about constitutional amendments and the achievement of social justice in the country, Mohamed ElBaradei, the former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the man who has galvanized the Egyptian opposition community unlike any other in recent history, continued to meet with activists and opposition leaders to agree on the steps that would be taken in order to amend the constitution as a part of the campaign to establish a new constitution in the future.

The former nuclear chief continues to get the support of opposition movements and activists from different political currents, and most recently the Coptic community has thrown their support behind a potential ElBaradei presidential run.

Abdel Rahman al-Yusuf, General Rapporteur and coordinator of the Independent Popular Campaign to Support the Nomination of ElBaradei, in the upcoming presidential elections, said that they suggested during a closed-door meeting that was held with Baradei` and attended by 7 members of the campaign last week “the activation of work in the street” in an effort to buttress grassroots efforts in the country.

He stated that some members of the campaign suggested that ElBaradei file a lawsuit to amend Article 76 “because it violates certain international conventions signed by Egypt.” Yusuf pointed out that ElBaradei promised to meet extensively with young people to listen to “their hopes and their pain and see them in the reform project.”

The organization and arrangement of the events would be organized by the campaign in the coming period and Yusuf explained that the main purpose of the campaign at this stage is “communicating with the public and the assembly as a kind of popular pressure for change.”

For his part, Mohammed Safwan, General Coordinator of the Movement “I want my rights,” said the movement posed to ElBaradei’s vision of young people in how to “activate the change by taking to the street and collect signatures from citizens for ElBaradei to change the constitution.” ElBaradei said that the idea of signatures is powerful and with great influence and “could help the demands in taking a legal form,” according to Safwan. The activist also said ElBaradei added that he counted on young people in the next stage “because they do not have a hidden agenda.”

This came as the Coptic community declared its support for the nomination of ElBaradei for the 2011 presidential elections. A new Coptic group in support of ElBaradei has been created on Face book and was immediately joined by a large number of Coptic members within a few days. The movement set a list of demands that would be submitted to ElBaradei for his candidacy:

First: the abolition of Article II of the Constitution, which states that Islamic Shar`ia is the main source for legislation in Egypt; second: the elimination of religion on personal identity cards to guarantee equality and to prevent sectarianism; third: to allocate a percentage of seats that suits the Copts to guarantee their representation in Parliament, both the Shura Council and the People`s Assembly and all local councils, “not to mention the need to reveal the real number of the Coptic Population in Egypt;” fourth: giving the right of voting to all Egyptians who live abroad as long as they are still Egyptian Citizens and their right to vote in any amendment of the constitution.

They also demanded the freedom of worship for all faiths and freedom of the construction of houses of worship or “organizing it through a common law and issue a deterrent law to any who insult the others’ religion.”

Their sixth demand was freedom of speech, “whether written or broadcast and giving everyone equal opportunities to express their beliefs without infringing the beliefs of others;” seventh: the approval of the issuance of the Personal Status Law, “which is still being neglected in the drawers of the Ministry of Justice for years;” eighth: the positions of mayors and governors should be through elections and ending the control of the executive authorities over the judicial and legislative authorities. Their last demand was to approve the State of Civilian Rule and the approval of civil state that could open the doors to a civil state without discrimination as a result of the color, religion, race, sex and accepting the international supervision of the upcoming elections.