By Mina Ibrahim
Pope Tawadros II, the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, said Sunday Copts who join the lists of the Salafist Al-Nour Party for the next parliamentary elections should not be trusted either by Muslims or Christians.
In a televised statement, he said Copts who join the Al-Nour Party hold two paradoxical opinions.
“It is an abnormal situation for a Copt to join an Islamist Party. Religious belonging in our life has a great, inclusive meaning in man’s life. One cannot claim that he is religious, while at the same time he has other identities of existence that contradict such belonging,” Tawadros added.
Article 5 of the current parliamentary law, drafted in June 2014 requires each party to include Copts and women on its electoral lists.
The Al-Nour Party is the political wing of the ‘Salafi Call’, an ultra-conservative Islamist movement. Yasser Borhamy, the head of the movement, has previously characterised Copts as ‘infidels’, denying their rights to any important political positions.
Since the January 2011 uprisings, members of the Salafi Call also issued fatwas against Copts, including the prohibition of Muslims from congratulating them during the Christmas or Easter.
Nonetheless, in July 2013, Pope Tawadros II appeared on television next to the head of the Al-Nour Party Younes Makhyoun, when Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who was minister of Defence at the time, declared the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi from his post following mass protests.
Nevertheless, the alliance formed by both fronts against the Muslim Brotherhood rule has gradually decomposed, in particular during the drafting of the 2014 Egyptian constitution, as well as the campaigning for the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Pope Tawadros stated that there would be no penalties from the Church against the Coptic members of the Al-Nour Party specifically, or Islamist parties in general. However, he illustrated that Copts who join these parties are responsible for the consequences of their decisions in the future.