Coptic Christians Worry About Future Without Mubarak
"Fear of what may follow the removal of Mr. Mubarak… is making reluctant supporters out of the country's Christians," The Wall Street Journal reports.
By Marc Champion
2/1/2011 Egypt (The Wall Street Journal) – Like the protesters who have flooded the streets of Egypt in the past week, the country's large minority of Coptic Christians worry about joblessness and lack of freedoms. But most want President Hosni Mubarak to stay in power.
Fear of what may follow the removal of Mr. Mubarak, a secular strongman who has ruled the country for the past 30 years, is making reluctant supporters out of the country's Christians, an estimated 10% of Egypt's 80 million population. Mr. Mubarak has been aggressive in pursuing perceived Islamist extremist groups, a policy that has endeared him to Coptic Christians, not to mention the U.S.
Many Copts worry that Mr. Mubarak's exit would leave them dangerously exposed—either by chaos, or to a government that may be more tolerant of Islamist extremists.
Pope Shenouda III, head of the Coptic Church, expressed support for Mr. Mubarak in an interview with Egyptian state television Monday. "We have called the president and told him we are all with you and the people are with you," he said, according to a transcript of the interview on the state television's website.
In Alexandria, where the Coptic Orthodox Church was founded in A.D. 42, worshippers slipped through a crack in the gate at St. Mark's and St. Peter's Church on Monday morning, for the first service to be held here since Egypt's anti-Mubarak protests began.
As recently as New Year's Day, this church suffered a horrific terrorist attack. Twenty-three people died and 97 were injured when a large bomb packed with nails and ball bearings detonated outside just after midnight, as the service was ending.