Egypt: Christians Under Pressure Ahead Of Presidential Poll

Source:       www.bosnewslife.com

Date:          June 15, 2012


By BosNewsLife Middle East Service

There have been protests against the killing of Copts in Egypt. (File Photo)


CAIRO, EGYPT (BosNewsLife)-- Christians were under pressure Friday, June 15, to vote for an Islamic leader in presidential elections this weekend, after a top court dissolved the  Islamist-controlled parliament due to election irregularities.


"You are our dignified brothers, and reform of the homeland is reform for all citizens,  Muslims and Christians," said Muslim Brotherhood's Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie in a statement  to Copts, as Christians are known in Egypt.

"We have both suffered from sectarian strife and the divisive practices of the former regime, which you undoubtedly do not want to bring back to power," he said.

However most Christians are expected to vote for the more moderate Ahmed Shafik, despite being the last prime minister of former President Hosni Mubarak’s autocratic government, analysts say.  

Shafiq faces Brotherhood's Mohammad Mohammad Morsi in a two-way presidential contest on June 16 and 17.

CHRISTIANS COURT RULING

Christians in Egypt have also welcomed Thursday's decision by Egypt's Supreme Court to dissolve the Islamist-led parliament, while also annulling a law which would have kept Shafik from competing.

There has been concern within the Coptic community that an Islamic controlled parliament, and president, would further restrict religious freedom and lead to increasing persecution of non-Muslims.

"The Arabs [have been] hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood [party] and the Salafists," said Priest Rafic Greiche, chief press spokesman of the Greek Melkite Catholic Church in Cairo.

After the parliamentary elections, the hard-line Salafist Muslims of the Nour Party already became the second largest political force in the country. They  espouse a strict form of Islam similar to that practiced in Saudi Arabia, where security forces are known to have
raided underground church groups.

ATMOSPHERE OF HATRED

That allegedly contributed to an atmosphere of hatred on several occasions towards Copts, who comprise some 10 percent of Egypt's 80-million mainly Muslim population, according to Christians.

Dozens of Christians were killed and hundreds injured since last year, for instance in demonstrations against the destruction of churches.

It remains unclear however whether a new parliament would include more moderate politicians and several former demonstrators against the Mubarak regime fear the current political impasse will lead to more turmoil.       

The Muslim Brotherhood reportedly said the recent court rulings dissolving parliament indicated Egypt was heading into "very difficult days”.

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