02/17/2019 Egypt (International Christian Concern) – Egypt’s parliament has approved draft constitutional changes which would extend President Sisi’s time in office by 12 years. The changes also include broad sweeping powers for the Egyptian military. Furthermore, the changes include vague language saying that there should be “appropriate representation” for Coptic Christians, disabled, and young people in the parliamentary chamber. These combined changes can have a significant negative impact on Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority.
The constitutional change regarding Christian representation in Parliament is extremely vague. The application of this would be challenging, as the population of Christians in Egypt is considered a state secret. Thus, any application of a specific ratio of Parliamentary representation would be impossible so long as the state continues to keep the number of Egyptian Christians secret.
The sweeping powers for Egypt’s military and security forces is also concerning. While they are engaged in a number of legitimate security operations, they have also been used to clamp down on basic human rights, including the freedom of worship. Security forces are often responsible for caving to the demands of hardline extremists to close churches.
President Sisi has made sweeping overtures towards Christians, including building a new cathedral in a remote location and amending the church legalization process. Even so, he has used the persecution of Christians as a justification to increase his own powers. Although the church legalization process has been amended, the process has been frustratingly slow.