Coptic activists form secular ‘Christian Brotherhood’

Coptic activists announced on Thursday the establishment of secular group called “Christian Brotherhood” as a parallel to the Muslim Brotherhood, to which President Mohamed Morsy belongs.

The idea was first suggested in 2005 by the lawyer Mamdouh Nakhla, director of Kelma Center for Human Rights, and writer Michelle Fahmy. It was then adopted by Amir Ayyad, who eventually founded the group, which he says aims at nonviolent struggle.

Copts, the largest religious minority in the Middle East, make up around 10 percent of Egypt's population of about 82 million. They are considered to suffer from discrimination, especially in building places of worship.

The group, according to its founders, has activists and branches in 16 Egyptian governorates and four foreign countries, three in Europe and one in Australia.

In a telephone interview with the website of the Saudi TV channel Al Arabiya, Fahmy said that the group had already existed but now “we are activating it.”

“We founded the group in 2005 in response to the rise of [Islamic] religious movements. After Morsy took over as the first civilian president, we  agreed on activating the idea to face the Islamist religious tide,” he added.

The group is preparing for a conference to announce its launch, under the title “the condition of Egyptian Copts under religious rule.”

The announcement did not seem to bother Islamists. Khalid Saeed, from the Salafi Front, said there is no problem having such group.

He told Al Arabiya “As long as they [the Christian Brotherhood] work within a legal framework, in accordance with their religion and their faith, and aiming for the country’s interests, there is nothing wrong with it."

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