Cairo (AsiaNews) - Egypt's Churches have called on their members to take
part in tomorrow's referendum. "Every citizen has the freedom to vote," Orthodox
Coptic Patriarch Tawadros II said last night at the end of a meeting with representatives
of all Christian denominations (Orthodox Copts, Catholics, Protestants and
"The Churches have not said how people should vote. Everyone is free to
vote in favour or against the new constitution," Fr Rafic Greiche, spokesman
for the Egyptian Catholic Church and organiser of the meeting, told AsiaNews.
Christians, who are about 10 per cent of the population, will probably
follow the lead of liberal parties, which told voters not to boycott the
referendum but instead vote no to the Islamist-drafted instead. This way, Egyptians
can show they trust the democratic system whilst trying to defeat the Islamist
majority through the ballot box.
"Our hope is that this constitution will not be approved," the priest
said. "The climate is very different from the previous vote on the constitution
right after Mubarak's fall. This time, the 'No' side will be stronger and
cannot be ignored."
In November, Church representatives pulled out of the constituent
assembly in protest against articles that denied both Christians and muslims
basic rights and freedoms, by subordinating legal interpretation on the Qur'an,
thus Islamising Egyptian society.
Many religious and non-religious leaders accuse President Mohamed Morsi
and Islamist groups of sowing division within the country by using Islam to
stay in power.
Meanwhile, thousands of people gathered again in Tahrir Square to
protest peacefully against a referendum held in an atmosphere of tensions and
chaos without the consent of much of the people.
For their part, Islamist groups organised pro-constitution rallies at
the mosques of Al-Rahman Al-Rahim, Al-Rashdan and al-Rabaa Adaweya after Friday
Today, Islamist leaders released threatening statements against attempts
to interfere with the referendum, claiming that a 'Yes' vote is the only way
out of the chaos. (S.C.)