Egypt's Presidential Runoff Concerns Egyptian Christians


Egypt's Presidential Runoff Concerns Egyptian Christians | Ayman Ibrahim, Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood, Elections

After the toppling of the regime of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, many Egyptians thought they would awake in a new era where all the problems of Egypt's society would be solved, Ibrahim observes. (Photo: Essam Sharaf)
Egyptians rejoiced on Feb. 11, 2011, over the toppling of the regime of President Hosni Mubarak. The majority thought that they would awake the next day in a new era where all the problems of Egypt's society would be solved.

The reality today is that political uncertainty and economic challenges are all that lie ahead for Egypt.

Egypt's Christians and moderate Muslims are concerned about the rise of Islamic groups, especially Muslim Brotherhood.

As Egyptians gear toward the second round of the presidential election, security is the top priority. Egyptians see the present full of fear and the future full of uncertainty.

Two candidates are currently running for office: one represents the Muslim Brotherhood; the other is the ex-prime minister in Mubarak's toppled regime.

Most Egyptians feel that they are left with two choices, each worse than the other.

The people of Egypt – my people – want to live honorable lives without thinking much of political power or dreaming of wealth.

Yet I know of more than 100 Egyptians, mostly Christians, who have decided to leave Egypt and filed for asylum. They claim they are persecuted in Egypt.

However, the way I see it, they fear the future. They are scared of what could happen once a Muslim Brotherhood candidate takes office. They envision Egypt's future to be like Iran's present.

The Muslim Brotherhood did not ignite or initiate the great revolution last year. But they have used it so far to obtain political power.

Currently they have 45 percent of the parliament, though they said over and over that they would only aim for one third of the seats.

Furthermore, after they said they would not run for office, they put forth their candidate, throwing all their weight to back him up.

But why do Egypt's moderate and educated people fear the dominance of Islamic groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood?

Consider the kind of laws Muslim fundamentalists and Muslim Brotherhood have attempted to pass:

●     A ban on teaching foreign languages, such as English, in schools. They want to stick only to the Arabic language, as it represents the holy language of Muslims.

●     A ban on producing nonreligious movies. They filed court cases against movie artists and actors, accusing them of undermining Islam and failing to respect Muslim Sharia.

●     Forced female genital mutilation, also known as female genital cutting. They believe it is a Muslim religious act to protect the chastity of the nation.

Instead of striving to issue laws to promote national security, religious freedom and economic enhancement, they propose such laws mentioned above.

Instead of heading toward the post-revolution future, we are heading back to the seventh century, riding our camels seeking the tents of Arabia.

If we continue this way, marginalizing the status of women and undermining the minorities (like Christians and non-Sunni Muslims), we will harm the development of Egypt.

These are some reasons why Egyptians are uncertain about tomorrow.

Egyptians are puzzled and confused. They think if they choose the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, then they are empowering and strengthening the Islamic Sunni mindset – a mindset that uses religious slogans to promote political power, undermining minorities, even Muslim ones like the Shiite.

But if they choose the ex-prime minister of Mubarak, then where has the revolution gone? Was there actually any revolution in the first place?

Even non-Sunni Muslims face harsh treatment. In May 2012, Sheikh Al-Azhar convened a meeting to confirm the Muslim Sunni rejection of all attempts to spread Shiite Islam in Egypt, a statement that followed the action of Egyptian authorities that forced the shutdown of a Hussainia Shiite Mosque a few days after opening.

Minorities in Egypt live in terror of Islamic Sunni dominance, empowered by the Wahabi version of Islam and supported by oil money.

What about Egypt's Christians?

Christians now speak a lot about politics. They used to be silent for the most part. One good thing about the revolution aftermath is that people are bold. They talk, even if they do not know what exactly they are talking about.

Christians now are wrestling with political ideas and use social media to unify religious and political camps. That is new.

Remember: I am talking about those educated people living in cities such as Cairo, Egypt's capital. This is not a real representation of Egypt's people, or Egypt's Christians.

In general, I can identify at least three groups among Egypt's Christians:

First, the aforementioned group of Christians that decided to seek a better future in the West, leaving their country, believing it's heading toward the past under Islamic extremist power.

Second, a group of church people that prays fervently for the better of their nation seeking God day and night in faith. This group involves Christians from all the major three denominations in Egypt. They are united. They know that their future is uncertain. They believe they have a task to do for their beloved nation in these dark days.

Third, a group of Christians who are mostly passive. They do not want to vote, and they have no means to leave the country.

The sad thing is that Christians thought that after the revolution they would definitely get all their rights back, but that wasn't true, especially seeing Muslim dominance taking over the parliament and the highest post in the nation. It appears like Christians are under siege in post-revolution Egypt.

Speaking of Egypt's future, should we choose the Muslim Brotherhood candidate or the so-called remnant of the Mubarak regime?

What Christians fear the most is that under the Muslim Brotherhood, the president would follow the Muslim Brotherhood's Guidance Bureau.

To revolt against the president would mean to revolt against Islamic Sharia. The consequences would be harsh.

Please pray for Egypt!

Ayman Ibrahim is a Christian from Egypt and a doctoral student at Fuller Theological Seminary.

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Tags: Ayman Ibrahim, Egypt, Elections, Muslim Brotherhood