Presidential Election Results Announced, Egypt Is Polarized, Copts' Future in Dark
We must pray for our Coptic Christian brethren and stand in solidarity with them
The first free presidential election in Egypt since the revolution concluded one week ago. Official results were announced on Sunday, June 24, 2012. The election has polarized the nation, left democracy in shambles, and the future of the Copts remains in doubt.
Protestors in Egypt awaiting the final results of presidential election
About 10% of Egypt's 85 million people are members of the Coptic Christian community. This makes the Copts the largest Christian minority throughout the Middle-East region. According to reports, the Copts overwhelmingly voted for Ahmed Shafiq, friend and former prime minister to ousted president Hosni Mubarak. Although Shafiq represents the old regime and is supported by the military, he was viewed by many Copts as being better than the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohammed Morsi.
Almost all the residents are Christians in Azaziya, a small town in southern Egypt, where Shafiq was expected to do very well. The leader of the town's son Montaser Qalbek said, "Our goal is a civil state. We don't see anyone else who can protect this except for him." Makram, a young man from Shobra, a working-class neighborhood in Cairo with a large Christian community, believes Shafiq will get strong support from his neighbors. He said, "We are backing the one who can ensure a measure of security for our community and the country."
The Copts have good reason to fear that Morsi will force sharia law on Egypt and turn it into an Islamic state, in spite of his recent rhetoric. The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis have called for such a state on many occasions. At a recent rally, Morsi said, "It was for the sake of the Islamic sharia that men were.thrown into prison. Their blood and existence rests on our shoulders now. We will work together to realize their dream of implementing sharia." So when Morsi vowed that Christians will be given full rights equal to Muslims, and he might appoint a Christian as one of his vice presidents, we can understand why the Copts did not believe him.
Even though the official results of the election had not yet been released, Mursi declared himself the winner. According to the Muslim Brotherhood, Mursi had close to 52 percent of the votes and Shafiq has about 48 percent. However, Shafiq was hopeful that he won. He said, "My campaign was pretty sure I will be the legitimate winner God willing." The Shafiq campaign rejected the Muslim Brotherhood's results. Based on their initial indications, they expeced Shafiq to receive over 51 percent of the vote.
They suspected Mursi of trying to hijack the election at the risk of destabilizing Egypt. As it turns out, the entire election process, beginning in December, has been fraught with distrust and perceived betrayals of one sort or another on both sides.
For instance, the Higher Presidential Election Commission (HPEC), which is charged with counting the votes and issuing the official election results, missed the announcement date. According to the state election committee, they were unable to meet the Thursday deadline because they received approximately 400 election-violation complaints from both sides. They hoped to review all of the complaints and announce the official results on Sunday. They made the announcemt on Sunday. Did they review all of the complaints?
Committee Secretary-General Hatem Bagato said, "We must give both sides all the time they need to ensure that the process is fair." But Essam el-Erian, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, said, "There is absolutely no justification for the result of the vote to be delayed." He added that complaints against the Muslim Brotherhood from Shafiq's people were "either invalid or too few to affect the result."
But this delay is trivial compared to the announcement made by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) as the polls closed last Sunday. They announced a ruling amending the Constitutional Declaration of March 2011 and giving SCAF sweeping authority. By this ruling, SCAF has the power to initiate legislation, to control the budget, to appoint a panel to draft a new constitution, to postpone new parliamentary elections until a new constitution is approved, to bring troops onto the streets during times of civil unrest, and to make arrests.
The Muslim Brotherhood and others believe the amendment undermines the president's power and are calling it a power grab, a military coup. Mohamed ElBaradei, an Egyptian reform leader and winner of a Nobel Peace Prize, described the document as a "grave setback for democracy and the revolution." The Obama administration, which appears to favor the Muslim Brotherhood, has declared concern over the changes. However, as dramatic as these changes are, they came on the heals of another change which is equally dramatic, if not ...
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