“Egypt’s Coptic community is eager to participate in the first post-Mubarak parliamentary elections amid repeated calls by Pope Shenouda to vote. While some claim their votes are aimed at countering the Islamist stream, others say they are looking to be well-represented in parliament,” The Daily News in Egypt reports.
By Omnia Al Desoukie
11/29/2011 Egypt (Daily News Egypt) – Egypt’s Coptic community is eager to participate in the first post-Mubarak parliamentary elections amid repeated calls by Pope Shenouda to vote. While some claim their votes are aimed at countering the Islamist stream, others say they are looking to be well-represented in parliament.
This week, Pope Shenouda urged Copts to vote for candidates they deem qualified, regardless of their affiliation. He made the same calls in his weekly sermon at the Orthodox Church earlier this month.
Shenouda’s remarks came a month after a violent crackdown on Christian protesters in front of state television building in October that left 27 people dead.
“I personally can see the importance of Shenouda’s statements as there are other religious groups that are intensively campaigning to win the elections, Christians’ participation in the elections will create a balance between the votes, as we will vote for the moderate candidates,” said Evon Mosaad, one of the founders of the Maspero Youth Coalition.
A prominent Coptic leader who asked to remain anonymous said that it’s the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) who asked the church to call on Christians to vote.
“There is a huge Islamic bloc in the political arena, that’s why we have to vote,” he explained.
The right to vote
Most Egyptians were always reluctant to participate in political life, dominated by the disbanded National Democratic Party. However, some analysts dated Christians’ boycott back to 1953, when the multi-party system was abolished under former president Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Others attribute Christians’ lack of participation to the rise of the Islamists in the 70s and 80s under the rule of former president Anwar Sadat.
“The situation now is different, we have liberal parties, we have complete judiciary monitoring, why then wouldn’t we participate in the elections?” explained Youssef Sedhom, chief editor of Watani, a Coptic newspaper.