US Religious Freedom Rep't: Egypt's Constitution Does Not Block Christian, Jewish Worship
According to the October 2001 International Religious Freedom Report issued by the US State Department, the practice of Christianity and Judaism does not come into conflict with Islamic law, or shari'a, the main source of legislation in the country.
For the most part, members of the non-Muslim minority worship without harassment and maintain links with coreligionists in other countries, says the report, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
However, other faiths and religious practices are not allowed in the country, a matter which the authors see as contrary to the principles of religious freedom.
"The government places restrictions on this right. Under the Constitution, Islam is the official state religion and the primary source of legislation. Accordingly religious practices that conflict with Islamic law (Shari'a) are prohibited."
Such Western reservations have surfaced in what was seen as a campaign targetting the Arab countries, and President Hosni Mubarak said in August that the West should pay attention to cultural peculiarities, and avoid applying their values to other countries.
But the State Department highlights an improvement in the official attitude towards the issue.
"There was a trend toward improvement in the Government's respect for and protection of the right to religious freedom during the period covered by this report. Public schools began using curricular materials on Coptic history, the Government implemented policies facilitating church repairs, and seven Christians became deputies in the People's Assembly (3 were elected and four were appointed by the President)."
The subject of religious freedom remains an important and active part of the bilateral dialog between the US and Egyptian Governments.
Senior Bush administration officials, the US ambassador, and members of Congress have raised US concerns about religious discrimination with President Hosni Mubarak and other senior government officials.
In March 2001, members of US Commission on International Religious Freedom visited the country and discussed religious freedom issues with a variety of Egyptian Government and non-governmental representatives -Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)