Egypt president hires women, Christians as aides in nod to diversity

Reuters News

8/27/2012 3:59:23 PM - Reuters News

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi appointed three women and two Christians to his team of 21 aides, spokesman Yasser Ali said on Monday, a nod to diversity from a man who chose as many male non-Christians for cabinet as ousted predecessor Hosni Mubarak.

Mursi, Egypt's first freely elected president, promised at the time of his election in June that women and Christians would have a place in his presidential team.

Christians make up a tenth of Egypt's 82 million Sunni-Muslim majority and have long complained of discrimination in government and religious jobs under Mubarak who was overthrown in a popular uprising last year.

Women also say they are not fairly represented in parliament and government. During Mubarak's three decades in power, women and Christians were only ever given three ministerial posts at most. Mursi has picked two women and one Christian as ministers.

The four residential aides included Bakinam Rashad Hassan al-Sharkaway, a female professor, as the president's assistant for political affairs, and Samir Morkos Abdel Maseh, a Christian intellectual, as an assistant for democratic transformation.

Muslim Brotherhood leader Essam al-Hadad was picked as an assistant for foreign affairs and international cooperation, and the head of the Islamist ultra conservative Salafi Nour Party Emad Abdel Ghafour as an assistant for social interaction.

The president also chose 17 consultants including two women and one Christian as well as former Islamist presidential candidate Mohamed Selim al-Awa, Egyptian poet and writer Farouk Gwaidah and the acting president of the Muslim Brotherhood Freedom and Justice Party Essam el-Erian.

Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali told journalists at Monday's news conference that the new aides' authorities will be announced later and that more aides may be taken on.

(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh, Tamim Elyan and Omar Fahmy; Writing by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Louise Ireland)