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Thursday, April 6, 2017

'Recognition of the full equality of rights to all citizens, regardless of faith' Al Azhar proposal.

'Recognition of the full equality of rights to all citizens, regardless of faith' Al Azhar proposal. (AN).

The recognition of the full equality of rights to all citizens, regardless of faith, is certainly one of the most evocative and bolder proposals to emerge from the Al Azhar University congress held in Cairo last month.

The Muslim and Christian academic, political and cultural personalities involved in the initiative of Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb courageously raised two issues that still create more than a little discomfort in the Arab and Islamic political and institutional world: the State secularity and full equality of rights of persons according to their nationality.

These issues, which are extremely important for the development of a culture of peace and mutual respect of human persons, will almost certainly be subject to further development, especially in light of the forthcoming trip of Pope Francis to Egypt, where he will also visit Al Azhar.

According to the treaties and agreements of the major international organizations, the UN in the first place, the proper implementation of the status of citizenship, presupposes that every citizen, by the mere fact of belonging to a particular state, cannot be discriminated against in the enjoyment of their rights on religious, ethnic, linguistic grounds and so on. The principle of citizenship is therefore based on respect for freedom of thought and conscience, of which religion is one of the fundamental manifestations, as pointed out by the Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, who spoke to the Egyptian conference.

If you look at the regulatory policy framework that defines citizenship status in the constitutions of the Arab and Islamic world, we observe that there is discrimination to freedom of thought and religion, to the point that faiths other than Islam are defined as a minority, that is, "different" communities who are not entitled to equal treatment, but are recognized according to a state of "dhimmitude", therefore at best tolerated.

The same Maronite Patriarch said that the term "religious minority" should disappear and be replaced by the recognition of equal dignity between the faiths.

The conception of citizenship in the constitutions of Arab States is explicitly tied to the Islamic religion in which they qualify their national identity. This means that the citizens of the Christian faith, being considered minority, are subject to restrictions, limitations and differential treatment in the fundamental rights. Read the full story here.

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