Heated exchange at Shura Council erupts over laws on church building

A heated exchange erupted at the Shura Council on Monday between Prime Minister Safwat al-Sharif and Mufid Shehab, Minister of State for Shura Council Affairs, on one side and Tagammu Party leader Refaat al-Said on the other.

Al-Said said that following the New Years Eve church attack in Sidi Bishr, it was time for the government to finalize a unified law for building places of worship.

“Let’s be realistic and admit that Coptic Christian anger is now aimed at the government,” said al-Said.

He went on to say, “The current law on building churches has been categorically rejected by all Egyptians. A fair law must be issued that gives all citizens the right to build a place of worship.”

Shehab protested the statements. “We shouldn’t confuse one thing with the other,” he said, asserting that the bombing constituted an act of terrorism having “nothing to do with the new law governing construction of Mosques and Churches.”

For his part, al-Sharif said that al-Said’s statements “give rise to discord and sectarian tension” and that more churches were built during President Mubarak’s reign than any other.

During the session, MP Shawki Said praised what he called “responsible media coverage” of the events related to the church attack.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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