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Coptic Christians Threaten to Walk Out of Egyptian Constitution Talks
By Morgan Lee

Frustrated by their seeming lack of efficacy in creating a more moderate Egyptian constitution, Coptic Christians have threatened to walk out on a committee charged with creating the new document.

Thus far, Egypt's Al-Nour party, which has been given one seat on the 50-person constitutional panel, has lobbied for an article defining Shariah law.

Despite Al-Nour's minority voice and the fact that secularists and liberals make up much higher numbers than the radical group on the panel, Christians do not believe that any progress will be made if the party is present.

"There is pressure," Safwat el-Bayadi, one of the three Christian panelists told The Associated Press.

After President Mohammed Morsi was forced out of power this summer, the military suspended the constitution, which critics had slammed for codifying and solidifying Islamic law. The current panel is redrafting portions of the document which will then be given to voters to approve or reject.

While the majority of the constitution has already been rewritten, the panel has yet to nail down the specifics regarding Shariah law - an event likely to be contentious.

Christians, in particular, are looking for the document to prevent the spike in persecution that they have found themselves victim of since Morsi was removed. In August, Islamists burned or destroyed over 70 churches and religious institutions, killing four people. Last month, two gunmen opened fire at a Christian wedding and killed four people. Parts of southern Egypt in Minya province were completely ruled by Islamists before the government finally took back control two months later.

To what end, the committee is looking to include "amendments against discrimination, inciting hatred and forced displacement, as well as not allowing political parties to be banned on religious grounds."

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