Egypt’s Coptic Church has decided to boycott an Islamist-dominated panel charged with drafting the country’s new Constitution, media report has said.

The 20-member Holy Synod made a unanimous decision to withdraw the two church officials elected to the committee.

The church “considers it inappropriate to continue to be represented given the reservations of various political forces on how the constitutional commission was composed,” state-run MENA news agency reported.

The panel comprises 100 members selected by Parliament, but it is mainly made up of Muslim Brotherhood members and radical Salafi who constitute the majority of lawmakers.

Several parties and secular groups in recent days have withdrawn from the panel, saying their presence was used as collateral for Islamists to draft a constitution that reflects their political and religious ideologies.

Al-Azhar, the key reference institution in Sunni Islam, also announced its withdrawal, distancing its ideology of moderate Islam from that of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis.

Coptic Christians constitute 6 to 10 per cent of the country’s population of about 82 million.

Coptic Pope Shenouda III, an ardent defender of his community, died on March 17 at age 88 and has not yet been replaced.

Earlier, the liberal Free Egyptians Party accused the Muslim Brotherhood of following in the footsteps of the ousted Mubarak regime by seeking to capture all “decision-making spots” in the country.

Muslim Brotherhood’s decision to nominate its deputy supreme guide, Khairat al-Shatir, as a candidate in the May presidential poll has sparked outrage among liberal groups in the country.

Muslim Brotherhood has nominated al-Shatir reversing its earlier stance not to contest the poll to calm western governments’ fears of a complete Islamist takeover.

The Brotherhood, which dominates the country’s Parliament, said due to “a serious threat to the revolution” from candidates that represent former president Hosni Mubarak’s regime, and a government that has failed to express the will of the people, they have decided that it was necessary to field a candidate.

The election will be held on May 23 and 24.

Keywords: Egypt unrest

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