The ousting of ‘former’ President Mohammed Morsi by the military, and the interim government’s resolve to rewrite the 2012 constitution, raise questions about the use of religion in public life. The head of the Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II, has asked for a change to the wording of an article relating to religious rules, while Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam announced his rejection of the idea of a theocratic state. Mohamed Abu al-Ghar, a constituent assembly member from the Social Democrats, has separately advocated that Islamic law have a role in legislation, which appears to be a matter of consensus.
Do Egyptians want religion to have a role in the public arena? If so, what sort of role?
New polling data appear to confirm a general trend that confirms conservative religious attitudes while showing scepticism towards political parties declaring a monopoly on religion. In general, Egyptians are a conservative people, and religion is a fundamental part of their identity – this is true whether they are Muslim or Christian. Recurring surveys done byGallup and now TahrirTrends over the past three years indicate how Egyptians are clear about their identification with religion. 98 per cent of those surveyed by Tahrir Trends considered religion to be ‘very important’ on a day-to-day level. The remainder said ‘somewhat important’.