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Egyptian: Despite Unrest the Gospel will Flourish

ICC Note:

Many Egyptian Christians fear a government takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood and voted against constitutional amendments that would ease restrictions on their political participation. Among them is Ramez Atallah, the head of the Bible Society in Egypt. Click here to view Atallah’s comments in an interview with CBN.

3/26/2011 Egypt (CBN) – Many Christians in Egypt are concerned that members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists are poised to takeover the unstable country after a recent vote to amend Egypt’s Constitution.

Nearly 80 percent of Egyptians voted over the weekend in favor of a referendum that would ease restrictions on political participation and limit the presidency to two four-year terms.

The majority of Egypt’s tiny Christian community voted against the constitutional amendments.

Ramez Atallah, leader of the Bible Society of Egypt, is among the opponents.

Atallah spoke with CBN News Sr. International Correspondent George Thomas about the challenges to religious freedom in Egypt after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.

Here is an open letter written by Atallah:

REMARKABLE TURNOUT FOR REFERENDUM

On March 19th, Egyptians turned up in unprecedented numbers and great enthusiasm to vote on a referendum for suggested changes to the Egyptian constitution. These changes were intended to make it possible to elect a new Parliament and Senate and eventually a President under terms that would be more democratic than in the past.

By voting “Yes”, elections for Parliament, Senate and Presidency would take place in the very near future. The majority of those who lobbied for the “yes” vote were right wing Islamic groups headed by the previously banned Muslim Brotherhood. Since they already have nationwide grass roots networks they are organized and ready to propose viable candidates from their party across the nation. Others, who do not yet have such a network, have little chance of having enough viable candidates in time for Parliamentary elections in September.

By voting “No”, these elections for would be delayed and thus allow some new parties to form and build their infrastructure in time to provide a fair choice for Egyptians. Many believed this was the only way to allow the revolutionaries’ dream for a truly secular state to be realized.

Most of the youth and demonstrators who led the Revolution, plus just about every Christian in the country voted “no”.

UNEXPECTED RESULTS

The discouraging result of a 78% “yes” vote and a 22% “no” vote shocked Christians and all those dreaming for a country where religion would not determine political affiliation. What made things worse was that many vocal Muslim spokesmen publicly declared that this “yes” vote was a clear affirmation that the majority of Egyptians want an Islamic State!

Eighteen million people voted and four million of these said “no”. Of these four million, probably about half were Christians. This means that open-minded Muslims voters in Egypt are possibly no more than 2 million. Though this is a large number, it still is a small minority of the voting public.

PRAYER REQUESTS

I am therefore writing to ask for your prayers:

That all those who voted “no” may not give up on democracy in Egypt but will continue to be involved in the upcoming elections as much and even more than they were in this referendum. That Christians in Egypt may believe that God is still in control even though their recent attempts to influence the political process met with few tangible results… I personally believe that greater freedom in society, while certainly welcome, would not necessarily result in deeper faith. Working under tighter constraints (in a more Islamic Egypt) may actually make Christians more committed to their faith and their Lord. For example, in spite of the remarkable freedom in Western countries it’s not necessarily easier for Christians there to be on fire for the Lord. Let us never forget that the Apostle Paul’s deepest yearning was “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” (Philippians 3:11). We often want the former and forget the latter. 

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