TODAY, 10 DECEMBER, IS HUMAN RIGHTS DAY – LET ALL EGYPTIANS REJECT ANY LIMITATION ON THEIR HUMAN RIGHTS UNDER THE PRETEXT OF RELIGION
TODAY, 10 December, is the Human Rights Day. The Coptic nationalists celebrate this day which marks a great event in the history of the progress of humanity towards freedom and justice for all men and women, regardless of nationality, ethnic origin, colour, religion, etc. On this day, back in 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which you can access here:
The first article of the UDHR stipulates that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” This is what we aspire to; this is what the Coptic nationalists, together with all human beings who love peace, freedom and justice, fight for.
The Copts, estimated at possibly 17 million, are a tiny part of humanity, constituting 0.24% of its 7 billion. However, every single Copt, man or woman, is as important as any other human being, and their human rights must be protected and guaranteed. This is important particularly these days when, paradoxically, as a nascent democracy is believed to be establishing a foothold for itself in Egypt, Coptic human rights are witnessing remarkable regression. Two parties can be blamed for this – the Islamists of Egypt who are resurging and the coward military rulers of Egypt who prefer to appease the aggressive Islamists rather than side with freedom and justice.
On this day let us remember our Egyptian co-patriots whose human rights are also abused. We particularly point to the women of Egypt and the Nubians, but almost all Egyptians suffer under a government that treats them as subjects rather than citizens. We remember all. But the specific abuse which Copts receive in addition must not be denied – an abuse which is compounded by the sheer fact that the Copts are different in religion.
Let us remember also on this day that human rights are universal and inalienable – all nations and states must adhere to their high standards as stated in the UDHR and relevant documents. Human rights cannot be restricted by any religion. As there can be no democracy or secularism with an “Islamic reference مرجعية إسلامية”, so there can be no human rights with Islamic reference. All such talk is only meant to restrict the application of the UDHR and all other related documents. Let us on this day condemn what is called the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam,[i] which was adopted in 1990 by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. The UDHR is irreplaceable and cannot have a parallel defective standard to be applied to Muslim-dominated countries. There must be no exceptions. This is more relevant today than any time before in Egypt – the Muslim Brotherhood, who are expected to win in the current parliamentary elections, have stated very clearly their intentions[ii] to restrict men’s, women’s and children’s human rights and reject certain international conventions that had been ratified by Egypt in the past, such as the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the 1990 Convention on the Rights of the Child. They want to restrict women and children rights because their Islamic religion, as they interpret it, clashes with the rights included in these important UN documents.
The Copts’ fight for their fundamental freedoms and human rights cannot be separated from the fight of all Egyptians, men and women, for the same. They fight for these against oppressive military regimes and a regressive Islamist ideology; and their ultimate goal is to establish a democratic, secular democracy which treats all with dignity and respect.
It is for this that the Coptic nationalists consider today, the Human Rights Day, as a day for all Egyptians, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, colour, sex or religion, to join hands and reject any restriction on their human rights under any pretext, particularly the religious one.
[ii] See Election Program of the Freedom and Justice Party: Parliamentary Elections, 2011.