Egypt’s Christians on the brink. Don’t they know that Sharia is entirely benign and compatible with the values enshrined in the U.S. Constitution? Or have they been listening to greasy Islamophobes? “Egypt’s Christians Vote to Keep Out Islamists,” by Ines Bel Aiba for AFP, May 24:
CAIRO (AFP) — Many Egyptian Christians felt marginalised under former president Hosni Mubarak and are voting to keep an Islamist from replacing him out of fear that their community will be further sidelined.
In Shubra, a working-class Cairo neighbourhood home to many Copts, voting lines were long, and the worry and tension felt by many Christians was palpable.
“I don’t want the Islamists. If they come to power and I oppose them, they will say I am criticising their religion and who knows what they’ll do to me? We can’t talk to them,” said 57-year-old Sanaa Rateb after casting her ballot. Dressed in a floral jacket topped with a pearl necklace, Rateb railed against those, including the Muslim Brotherhood, who object to a Christian or a woman standing as president.
“It’s a mistake. Where is the principle of citizenship in all this? I have the right, as a woman or as a Copt, to stand for the presidency if I want,” she said.
Nassim Ghaly, a young man with a cross tattooed on his wrist in the distinctive manner of Egyptian Christians, interjected: “God protect us if the Islamists come to power and they control the parliament and the presidency at the same time.”
Like all the Copts questioned on Wednesday, Rateb and Ghaly voted for Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister to serve under Mubarak, whose campaign posters were the most visible in Shubra.
“Shafiq is a respectable man who can restore the country,” said Mary, who declined to give her family name.
Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox church, whose patriarch, Pope Shenouda, died in March, has refrained from endorsing a candidate, but Mary insisted that within the community “everyone is voting for Shafiq.”
But she says the community is not looking to Shafiq to protect their rights as Christians.
“We don’t want anyone to defend us. We just don’t want any problems and to be left alone,” she said….
The Coptic community, which makes up between six and 10 percent of Egypt’s 82 million-strong population, is traditionally low-key and fairly absent from the country’s circles of power.
“What we want is a non-religious state,” which would guarantee the rights of all religious groups, Sanaa Halim, in her sixties, said.
“The Islamists trends are worrying,” one of her friends added, declining to give her name. “And what have they done in parliament? Nothing, except talk about women and female circumcision.”…
Asked about her position on Egypt’s Islamists, a young Christian woman responded dryly: “I’m sorry, I don’t wish to say anything on that subject.”