Egypt: Islamists Demand Placing Coptic Church Funds Under Egyptian State Control
So that they can then invent reasons to withhold it, deny it, or spend it elsewhere …
AINA – “Demands raised this week by Islamists in the Constituent Assembly, which is drafting the new Egyptian constitution, for placing the Church’s funds under state financial control were categorically rejected by church leaders and Copts at large. Anba Pakhomious, Acting Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, condemned the action of Salafist groups. ‘The mere submission of such a proposal is totally unacceptable, and if it is approved, this proposal has only one meaning, that Copts are clearly persecuted.’ He added that the church will not accept the monitoring of its money or donations by any entity, and should not pay taxes to the state because all its activities fall within the provision of the needs of orphans and needy Copts, and therefore the state cannot claim taxes because they are not investment projects.
Counselor Edward Ghaleb, one of the three Coptic Orthodox Church representatives in the Constituent Assembly, said that if the government does not fund the church in any way, how can it demand monitoring its resources. He said that it was illogical to take permission from Central Auditing Authority to budget for the food for the monks in monasteries, and in the ordination of priests, as well as the numerous services provided by the Coptic Church, which are completely funded by collections from Copts.
Father Matthias Nasr, priest of the Church of the Virgin Ezbet el Nakhl, said the state has never funded churches, unlike mosques, which get funding from the taxpayer money paid by Muslims and Christians. He said this new Salafist proposal is aimed at allowing the Muslim Brotherhood to dominate all institutions and exercised control on churches and Christians.
Khaled Saeed, spokesman for the Salafist Front, said the proposal of state monitoring of church funds came after the ‘insistence by some people’ to monitor funds of the Muslim Brotherhood, stressing that the Salafist front does not interfere in the religious beliefs. ‘There should be control over church funds,’ he said during a debate over the issue with Ramses El-Naggar, legal adviser to the Coptic Church, which was aired on the Egyptian independent TV Channel Al Hayat on August 28.
Saeed said the smallest monastery in Egypt is larger than the Vatican or Al-Azhar Mosque, which leads to concerns over the presence of a ‘church state within the Egyptian civil state.’” Read more.