04/12/2013, 00.00
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Egypt, Parliament gives green light to use of religious slogans during election campaign

The amendment also allows propaganda in places of worship. It was approved by Islamist majority votes. Democratic parties critical, Copt MPs and the president of the chamber. Theywarn: "The new regulation incites religious hatred." Death toll from April 5 clashes in al-Khosous suburb rises to seven.

Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Shura Council has approved new rules ahead of the elections in June. After several attempts, the Islamists have managed to pass a bill legalizing religious slogans during the election campaign, prompting outrage among representatives of religious minorities and the democratic parties. The move fundamentally changes Articles 2 and 31 of the electoral Regulations that invite candidates to promote the 'national unity, banning the use of religious slogans and places of worship for election propaganda.

Kamal Ramzy, a Coptic Christian member of parliament, has criticized the Islamist majority's move and says: "The Muslim MPs should have learned a lesson from the recent sectarian clashes in Al-Khosous and Cairo. They should keep the ban on religious slogans." Ramzy's view is not only shared by Christian parliamentarians but also by Sawat el-Sharif, Speaker of the Shura Council who has warned the Islamist majority of the risk of "fomenting sectarianism in the country."

During the Parliamentary session many members of the democratic parties cited the recent clashes on April 5 in the al-Khosous suburb that culminated on April 7 with the attack on the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of St. Marks. Two people were killed in the assault. In recent days, the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II accused President Mohamed Morsi of being jointly responsible for the climate of violence, often tolerated by police and Islamist ministers.

Meanwhile, the death toll from those clashes have reached seven victims after three people recently died from their injuries. The last, Saber Saber Helal, an Orthodox Coptic of 21 years, died last night in a local hospital The last fatal clash was reported on 9 April, coinciding with the reconciliation meeting between the Christian and Muslim leaders in the area .



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