Egypt’s Court rules Islamist-dominated panel illegal

By June 4, 2013

Egypt (MNN) — Last year, Egypt's interim parliament gave the Supreme Constitutional Court a kick in the teeth. The new constitution draft restructured the court, reducing its members from 19 to 11.

Two days ago, the highest court answered back and ruled that the Islamist-dominated upper house was illegally elected. The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the Al Nour Party, made up of members from the extremist Salafi group, hold almost two-thirds of Egypt's parliamentary seats.

When the court ruled to dissolve parliament's lower chamber last June, that action eventually led to the Shura Council becoming a law-making house. Spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs USA Todd Nettleton says, "That also means that the panel that approved the Egyptian constitution also was faulty, also was illegal."

Even though it reads like a "tit for tat," it wasn't really all political games. Nettleton goes on to explain a little more behind the court's ruling. "There were a certain amount of seats within both the lower and the upper house of Parliament that are reserved for minority groups. Apparently, what the court is saying is that the majority party put candidates up for those seats, which they didn't have the right to do because they're reserved for minority groups."

Nettleton notes that the ruling also calls into question mandate and legitimacy of the charter. However, the court said the upper chamber should stay put until new elections can be held later this year or early in 2014. The problem with that, says Nettleton, "So you have a body that has been determined to be unconstitutional, and yet they're making laws, they're passing legislation for at least several more months."

What happens until then has the potential for boggling the mind. "It's hard to understand how a body that has been declared unconstitutional can make laws that then will be declared constitutional. That goes back to the constitution itself, which was forced through the process as quickly as possible."

When the constitution was approved, Christians were alarmed. Things had been going solidly against them for months. In fact, the greatest red flag came in response to President Mohamed Morsi's election. At that time, a VOM contact said, "Christians are expecting more terrible suffering now in Egypt…. We are praying for Christians to put their hope in the Almighty, not the man–whoever he is! God reminded me of the verse in Psalm 11:3, 'If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?' This is what we really feel, that the foundations are destroyed. But then the answer was found in the next verse: 'The LORD is in His holy temple.' "

Still, the ruling has the potential for good, Nettleton thinks. "If they readdress the constitution , if they include all of the minority groups in the discussion and in the process of drafting it, it's hard to think that that would be a bad thing." About one of every nine Egyptians is Christian, and at about 10 million, they comprise the largest Christian community in the Arab world. That their voice was silenced in the formation of the constitution and in the running of parliament was even more alarming.

And yet it has been the response of Christians to the harassment, discrimination, and outright persecution that has provided the most opportunity, says Nettleton. "There are Muslims who are choosing to follow Christ, and a part of that is they see the radical nature of Islam as presented by the Muslim Brotherhood and now as being enforced at a governmental level, and that's producing openness to the Gospel."

Please remember Christians in Egypt. Pray that a spiritual revival will sweep through nations that are hostile to the Gospel.

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