Egypt’s top Muslim cleric urges Christians to leave schools

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MIKA KHALIFA, Egypt — The top Muslim leader in Egypt urged Christians to abandon the public schools and enter the private sector.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which controls the country, has launched an aggressive push to close the public and private sectors in the Muslim majority country of nearly 30 million.

It also plans to close schools that are not Christian and will be forced to close private schools, the Egyptian-based Al Jazeera English reported.

In an address to a religious conference in Cairo, Mohamed ElBaradei, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, said Christians must return to the public sector.

“Let us return to public education, to public service, to the private and to the religious life, so that every Egyptian can become a member of the community and a Christian,” he said.

ElBaradeia’s comments were first reported by Al Jazeera.

He was speaking at the fourth-annual Islamic Society of Egypt’s conference, which began on Saturday.

Many Muslim schools in Egypt have closed down since the fall of President Mohammed Morsi in 2013, and the country is on a state of emergency.

The Muslim League, a political party that came to power after Morsi’s ouster, has ruled Egypt since Morsi’s overthrow.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has also vowed to open more schools and to close dozens of state-run schools.

Last year, the Muslim Council of Britain called for an end to public schooling.

A study released last year by the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics found that more than half of all elementary and middle school students in Egypt attend a public school.

Egypt has one of the lowest literacy rates in the Middle East.