INTRODUCTION: President Sadat of Egypt has begun a purge of religious groups which he claims are meddling in politics.
GV Coptic cathedral in Cairo
GV INT People standing in prayer (2 shots)
SCU Young girl crying
GV Congregation listening (2 shots)
GV EXT People leaving cathedral past armed guard
CU Egyptian flag TILT DOWN TO guards outside Egyptian People's Assembly Rooms
GV INT ZOOM IN TO SV Sadat enters hall and is greeted by officials
SV Audience listening to Sadat, ZOOM IN TO Sadat, PAN CROSS audience (3 shots)
SV Sadat speaking as other members watch
SV Sadat leaving building and answering reporter's questions
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The Egyptian government is holding a special referendum to see if there is popular support for the president's measures.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: INTRODUCTION: President Sadat of Egypt has begun a purge of religious groups which he claims are meddling in politics. He has virtually exiled the head of the Christian Coptic Church to a desert monastery and has arrested over a thousand members of the Islamic fundamentalist group, the Muslim Brotherhood. These moves follow the clashes in the June between Muslims and Christians in which 17 people died and 112 were injured.
SYNOPSIS: The Christian Copts in Egypt are only about a tenth of the country's population.
But the Islamic fundamentalists have accused the president of favouring them. For his part president Sadat has accused the Coptic pope of having political ambitious and has stripped him of his powers.
This action has shocked and angered the Copts. Those in Cairo gathered in the city's cathedral after the announcement on Saturday (5 September) to show that they still regarded Pope Shenouda as the head of their church.
Despite this some Copts have applauded President Sadat as they believe he will also curb the power of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The President did launch a strong attack on the Islamic fundamentalists in his speech to the Egyptian Parliament.
He accused the Muslims of insolence and impudence in publishing articles attacking Egypt's ties with United States and the peace treaty with Israel. He said that those who had been arrested were trying to corrupt young people and accused them of stirring up the religious clashes last June. He disbanded 10 of the biggest Islamic groups and froze the funds of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The president also shut down seven religious and political journals and removed journalists, broadcasters and university professors from posts of influence. He told parliament he had been too lenient in the past on those who created sectarian strife.
The severity of the president's actions has surprised some foreign observers. And he told journalists after his speech to parliament that there could be more arrests if they were necessary. He said he was carrying out a purge but he was not eliminating all members of the opposition. Since then the government has announced it is taking over 40,000 privately owned mosques. It says this is to stop mosques being used for other than religious purposes.