02/06/2018, 12.46
EGYPT

Egyptian Church: Citizenship, health and education for a future of peace and development

With less than two months to go to presidential elections, the Church calls on the electorate to turn out without giving any indication on who to vote for. Fr. Rafic: "To eliminate the discriminatory mentality" and to support economic and infrastructural development. Citizens must also contribute to growth by "showing themselves open" to others. For Christians and Muslims "same rights and obligations".

Cairo (AsiaNews) - The values ​​on which Muslims and Christians must build a peaceful and cohesive nation "are citizenship, access to education and healthcare for all". To achieve the result, it is "necessary to eliminate the discriminatory mentality", which imbedded in a large part of the population, including minorities.

This is what Fr. Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church, stresses to AsiaNews commenting on the situation of the country less than two months ahead of the presidential elections, which see the outgoing leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi favored. "Catholics, Protestants, Copts in general - he adds - support the president, but the Church does not intend to take a position, while renewing its invitation to participate in the interests of the country".

At the end of March the presidential elections are scheduled for the choice of the head of state for the next four years. The ballot, in case of failure to elect one candidate the first round, will be held in the second half of April. The big favourite is al-Sisi, who currently has his former and loyal supporter Mousa Mustafa Mousa as the only challenger. There are appeals for a boycott from the opposition.

Fr. Rafic explains that the opposition is appealing for a boycott "because it doesn’t have a strong and credible candidate, capable of opposing the outgoing president". As a private Egyptian citizen, he adds, "I do not see any personality capable of opposing the current head of state, who has been able, in some respects, to work strongly for the good of the country".

Fr. Rafic continues, that the current president has made "significant" steps in terms of economy, infrastructure and development, but "what makes him more credible" is his ability "to make strong decisions, at the same time unpopular, such as outlawing the Muslim Brotherhood [supporters of former president Morsi] and having ordered the free fluctuation of the local currency ".

On a social and economic level, Egypt must continue along the path of development promoted in recent years. This includes the exploitation of recently discovered natural gas fields, because "the country consumes a lot of energy and it is important to resell part of the product abroad to finance the local economy and business". Added to this is the development of "new cities where today only poor villages and urban centers are located" and "new infrastructures capable of connecting these realities to each other", to "facilitate travel and improve people's quality of life".

 

While security always remains a source of "concern", so far the issue related to faith and religious identity has not been among the priority elements of the electoral campaign. "And this is good," says the spokesperson of the Catholic Church, because today the president must be a "figure capable of representing everyone, without distinction". However, the three key factors for the development of the country are "citizenship, education and the elimination of a discriminatory mentality still present in large pockets of the population".

"The government must eliminate obstacles - explains Fr. Rafic - and make education accessible to everyone. But the development of Egypt is not only the task of the institutions, but concerns primarily its people. Citizens must also improve, show greater openness to others and not close in on themselves. In addition, a cultural revolution is needed on the issue of citizenship, explaining what it means to be an Egyptian citizen, erasing the differences between Muslims and Christians so they are the bearers of the same rights and the same duties".

"Unfortunately - he concludes - there are still differences and divisions of the Salafist doctrine and in some cases even among the Christians themselves distrust and closure towards Muslims remain ". (DS)

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