After Al-Azhar, Egypt church leaves constitutional panel to Islamists
CAIRO - Egypt's Coptic Orthodox church has decided to boycott a Islamist-dominated panel charged with drafting the future constitution, the official MENA news agency reported on Monday.
The official MENA news agency reported that the decision was taken unanimously by the 20 members of the Holy Synod to remove the two church officials who sit on the committee.
The church "considers it inappropriate to continue to be represented given the reservations of various political forces on how the constitutional commission was composed," the report said.
The commission comprises of 100 members selected by the parliament, but is mainly made up of members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi fundamentalists who also are the majority among lawmakers.
Several parties and secular figures in recent days have withdrawn from the panel, saying their presence was used only as a collateral for the Islamists to draft a basic law that reflects their political-religious ideologies.
Al-Azhar, the key reference institution in Sunni Islam, also announced its withdrawal, distancing its ideology of moderate Islam from that of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi fundamentalists.
The Copts or Egyptian Christians constitute six to 10 percent of the country's population of about 82 million.
Their patriarch, Shenouda III, an ardent defender of his community, died March 17 at age 88 and has not yet been replaced.
The church's decision to boycott the panel comes after the Brotherhood said Saturday it was nominating a candidate for the presidential election on May 23, breaking its earlier promise of not contesting.
The decision to nominate the group's deputy leader Khairat al-Shater -- a business tycoon and the group's main financier -- has sent shock waves through political circles.