What Egyptian Christians Think about their New Islamist President

Morsy celebrating victory

My article on Morsy’s victory was originally published at Christianity Today on June 25, 2012.

In the most democratic elections since 1952, the people of Egypt have freely chosen their leader. And for the first time in history, that leader is a native-born Islamist.

Mohamed Morsy of the Muslim Brotherhood captured 51 percent of the vote, narrowly defeating his rival Ahmed Shafik (widely perceived as the candidate of the former regime) who gathered 48 percent. Jubilant crowds in Tahrir Square celebrated into the night, though for diverse reasons.

Many rejoiced at the triumph of the candidate of Islam, one who had pledged to implement Shari’ah law. Others, nervous at the prospect of Muslim Brotherhood rule, nevertheless exulted in the triumph of the revolution, first deposing Mubarak and then defeating his former minister.

Some, though not likely in Tahrir, quietly exhaled at a democratic election and rotation of power, hopeful these gains will not be reversed.

Meanwhile, at a Christian retreat center outside of Cairo, a number of Coptic women shed tears of despair over their community’s future, as they huddled around a television and watched Morsy be proclaimed the winner.

Some of the men tried to find the positive…

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6 thoughts on “What Egyptian Christians Think about their New Islamist President

  1. First it’s not called Sharia Law. It’s just Sharia as Sharia means law.

    Second I’m bewildered why the Christians should not want the Islamists to rule.
    We have been hearing for decades now how under Mubarak they were suffering so much. It ws Mubarak dont forget who refused their churches being built not the MB.
    It was Mubarak who refused them their permits.
    It was Mubarak that discriminated against them and stopped them getting jobs.
    That was nothing to do with the MB.

    The more I read about the Christians the more they appear to be following the Israelis in saying everyone is against them.

    It would be better to have a more positive post with more emphasis on the last regime and how they treated Christians and stop the negative MB talk which just annoys people like me who are neutral and take no sides.

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    • All your points are very fair, Hanna, but this point of the article is to describe Coptic sentiment, not say what it should be. (That would be a fine separate article.) I think you’ll find such testimony was included among those quoted, but I don’t find it to be the primary sentiment.

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  2. I am not sure what is meant by that Morsy is the first native-born Islamist leader. However, for accuracy, Morsy won by a percentage of 51.73 against 48.27 % for Shafik, and he is the candidate of the MB and not as wrongly mentioned the candidate of Islam.
    I feel for the Coptic women who shed tears of frustration and fear. The media contributed to that by spreading the worst possible images and ideas about MB and by implying, in the last few hours before announcing the results, that Shafik was surely the winner. No one knew why the media did so, but they played with everyone’s feelings.
    To the Christians who are stlll wondering what the next four years would hold, I say in shaa Allah, they will be much better because MB and Morsi, though now independent, will be keen to present good will and prove the propagated ideas and images wrong. Yet, hardly anyone would acknowledge, because the expectations are very high, the overall present circumstances are tough and time is short. But at its worst, wrong and underhanded work shall never again have a chance. No one will allow it. So, just give Morsi a chance.

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  3. Nader Wanis says, “Muslims are very deceiving; they speak as if they are for human rights but they will give us nothing.”
    This is a very negative and subjective statement. This does not allow mutual trust to flourish. Nader Shukry also says that Morsi is against citizenship. Perhaps he means mowatana, which possibly means nationhood or the principle that it is our belonging to the same nation that holds us together. How can Morsi or MB be against this? Morsi never said anything that meant so.
    The article talked about a human and Coptic rights organization that was “formed following the post-revolution attacks on churches.” It is morally accurate to define that the attack was not on an indefinite number of churches or many, but on a couple of churches whose building license was controversial. These attacks were not carried by MB. Whose responsibility was it to protect these churches from mobs and thugs? The irony is these also voted for Shafik!

    Nader also says, “Copts fear we will be isolated from high positions in government and society even worse than we were under Mubarak.” Christians were not isolated under Mubarak’s as two of the most important ministries, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Environmental Affairs, were held by Copts. The former of them, who had ran out of Egypt to UK, has been accused and charged with corruption for he was responsible for financial mismanagement and great losses for Egypt. There was also one Christian governor in the previous regime. Though the former regime is highly criticized for many flaws, it is just honest to acknowledge it offered generous and immediate facilities for the projects of a number of Christian businessmen, like Sawiris, and distinguished professionals, like Dr. Magdi Yacoob, when for example, Dr. Zweil was not treated likewise.
    Finally I say to Bishop Thomas, who scared the nest-building bird or the refuge-seeking bird away from his church, “Poor bird! It may have had God’s blessings for the place and its people!”

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    • Thanks for all points, Afaf, they are fair. This article, though, was meant to survey the Coptic reaction – not the validity of their reaction. Each of the quotes above was heard multiple times by different sources; I believe they represent the community well.

      But, I’m sure I missed some elements. Could you share the article with the Christian members of MRA and ask them to post their feedback? It will give readers a good sense of opinion on the ground. Thanks.

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