COPTIC NATIONALISM AND CULTURAL AUTONOMY AND SELF-GOVERNMENT FOR THE COPTS
When On Coptic Nationalism was launched back in 2011, we stated that Coptic nationalism works for the cultural revival of our nation. We continue to believe in that.
Coptic nationalism works for a civilian, secular democratic Egypt for all Egyptians regardless of religion, sex, colour or nationality. This means on a practical level:
- The establishment of a secular, civilian, democratic Egypt that is just for all. This simply means getting Political Islam out of politics in Egypt. Islamism cannot coexist with democracy, fraternity, equality and liberty in any country. Eventually, though not immediately, it also means the replacement of the military rule by a purely civilian one. This will have to wait until the Islamists are sufficiently weakened.[i]
- The guaranteeing of the individual (civil and political) rights of the Copts within Egypt.
But these are only about individual rights. We demand more than that and here we represent an advanced form of political thinking and vision from other Coptic activists: Coptic Nationalism works and agitates not only for the individual rights of the Copts but for their collective rights too: We work for the realisation of a significant cultural autonomy and self-government for the Copts. We do not seek a regional self-government as in no governorate do we see the Copts representing a majority – we, however, demand a wide non-territorial autonomy which has been tried and found successful in civilised states and a model satisfactory to the cultural needs of minorities. The Copts must possess a large degree of religious, educational and cultural autonomy; and for this to happen, a Coptic Cultural Council must be elected exclusively and democratically by all Copts; and it must possess: 1. exclusive legislative powers over religion, education and cultural matters related to the Copts; and 2. the right to represent the interests of the Copts to the state.
It’s not going to be easy but being difficult does not mean it’s impossible; least of all, it does not mean it’s not the right thing to do. As we said: He who dares win. The Copts must not fear thinking big. Self-government and autonomy must be the primary aim of any Coptic movement if it aims at protecting our identity, culture and heritage.
[i] While in 2011 we had hoped that a civilian democracy in Egypt could be established; the last three years have taught us that Egypt is not yet ready for democracy – the two existent competing powers are Islamism and the Military.