Date: June 27, 2012
(Photo courtesy of Jonathan Rashad) President-elect Morsi. (Story photo courtesy SAT7)
Egypt (MNN) ― Egypt's first-ever democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, has already made history.
Now, he'll do it again by appointing a Christian vice president as one of his first acts. He will also choose another vice president who is a woman.
The Islamist figure, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, promised to ensure rights of minorities. Farid Samir, the Executive Director of *SAT-7's studios in Cairo, says despite the show of good will, "Although most of the promises that he had made are positive, it's not the promises. [Minorities] had fears of being treated as second-class citizens."
In a May 12th speech at Cairo University, Morsi said, "The Koran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our path, and death in the name of Allah is our goal."
However, the greater concern for Christians came from a report Monday from Iranian state media. Samir says, "They're afraid of following Iran's regime because the first announcement he made, he said, 'We want to restore our relationships with Iran.'"
According to the semi-official Fars news agency, Morsi views a renewal of diplomatic ties with Tehran as a way to achieve "strategic balance" in the region. Samir says nobody is sure how far that renewal will go. "They have two armies. One army is the official army, and the other army is to protect Islam and to protect the regime. So we don't know if this is what he means by 'following the Iranian regime' or learning from that."
Then, in what seems to be an about face, Morsi's policy adviser this week emphasized that Egypt "definitely" would not be an "Islamic Republic."
Meanwhile, Egypt's courts suspended a ruling that said the military could arrest citizens, forcing the military back from what was perceived to be a move toward martial law.
What does all this mean? It seems it's an effort to allay fears of sharia, jihad, and religicide. Samir notes, "We can't forget that this Muslim Brotherhood didn't just start now, but it was there for 80 years, working underground. But now, it's official." There's good reason for concern. "There is a lot of fear, also, about seeing the same violent acts against Christians, but this time, with legal coverage."
Christians may face losing more of their voice, more rights, and possibly, face more trouble. Reports of widespread evacuation have already begun to file in.
The greatest concern: who will Morsi be to believers after the "honeymoon" period is over? Samir says, first, "Church leaders are trying their best to strengthen the faith of people trying to talk about higher authority of God over any humans, and that God's will is over all that's happening."
Then, SAT-7 studios in Cairo began offering a forum for viewers. Samir explains, "We started a current affairs show called 'Salt of the Earth,' bringing hope, encouraging Christians to share in the community."
The events of the past few weeks have revealed serious divisions in society, and many Egyptians are stunned. Samir adds that the uncertainty has had an interesting effect on ministry. "They'll talk about our role as Christians in the region, and the important thing is that the churches are full of people now. The same day that they announced Morsi as president, the churches were full of people. They seek God more now."
As an organization that does not take political positions, SAT-7 supports viewers by teaching how they can apply Christian principles to everyday life. In this case, says Samir, "We need this to be effective. We include a dialogue between denominations, and between Christians and Muslims, also."
Biblical perspective helps. It emphasizes the need for an attitude of reconciliation between election winners and losers, as well as a readiness for participating in writing a new constitution. Samir adds, "Fear is not really logical, but when we give some logic, and some biblical facts, it helps ease the fears down a little bit."
In the days ahead, there is a lot at stake. Samir encourages believers to stay involved in Egypt's emergence. It's a painstaking process, and what the nation will look like on the other side remains undetermined. "Pray for protection for the staff and the facilities, for wisdom for producers, for presenters to speak the truth. Pray also...for people to read the Word of God."
*A Christian satellite and television ministry to the Middle East and North Africa.