Coptic Christian defends accepting role on Egypt presidential advisory team

Ahram Online

Samir Morcos, a Coptic Christian scholar and writer, rejects criticism that his position on President Morsi’s advisory team is merely symbolic.

Egypt’s newly appointed presidential assistant, Samir Morcos, has denied the position is symbolic and designed to fill a quota of Coptic Christians on Mohamed Morsi’s advisory team.

Morcos, who previously headed the Masry Foundation for Citizenship and Dialogue, said he had been asked to advise the president on the democratic transition and state modernisation.

“Either I make a difference or I leave,” he added.

Four assistants and 17 advisors, including three Coptic Christians, were appointed to the president’s advisory team on Monday.

Freedom and Justice Party Vice President Rafiq Habib was appointed as a consultant to the president.

Meanwhile, the Civil Rights for Christians Movement (CRCM) expressed its discontent with the appointments, claiming they did not reflect the diversity of Egyptian society because most of them were affiliated with the Islamic current.

The team includes six members of the Muslim Brotherhood, three members of the Salafist Nour Party, and Islamist thinker Selim El-Awa.

“President Mohamed Morsi has failed to fulfil his promise to appoint three vice presidents, including one Copt, a woman and a young person. He only appointed a Christian as his assistant after Salafists objected to him being made vice president,” said a CRCM statement on Tuesday.

President Morsi appointed reformist Judge Mahmoud Mekki as vice president on 12 August. However, presidential sources at the time said more vice presidents could be appointed.

Co-founder of the Kefaya movement George Ishak expressed disappointment that no members of the opposition had been appointed to the president’s advisory team.

“Having figures from the opposition was important to reflect the opposition’s views on different issues,” said Ishak.

Ishak praised the inclusion of Morcos and Mekki but said the appointments should be made more transparently.

“I personally don’t understand the different role of the presidential team and the advisory team,” added Ishak.

However, he said he was glad the president’s assistants were now known.

“We can now assess them and tell them when they score or fail,” said Ishak.

Earlier in August, leftist activists Wael Khalil and co-founder of the April 6 Youth movement Ahmed Maher turned down positions on the presidential team as they wanted to remain independent.


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