Friday Prayers for Egypt: Building, Barring Opposition

Flag Cross Quran

God,

While it is still early in choosing Egypt’s next president, there is also not much time left. The first round is scheduled for May 26-27, giving little over a month to the two candidates who have collected the necessary endorsement signatures: Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Hamdeen Sabbahi.

Sisi is the overwhelming favorite, and though Sabbahi benefits from name recognition and revolutionary pedigree, it is not anticipated he will do well.

The Constitution Party, however, has given him a boost. One of the central liberal parties formed after the revolution, its membership has chosen to endorse him. Their vote was overwhelming; Sisi took only ten percent with a dissenting thirty percent opting for boycott.

But like many parties, their social reach is yet undetermined. Their members are activists, and they represent a revolutionary perspective that has been increasingly questioned by the average Egyptian.

You know, God, if they act from principle. And you know further if Egypt needs to build strong parties regardless. But aid Egypt in the creation of a system that channels activism into polity. Through this party or others, through any and all candidates, translate legitimate partisanship into national benefit.

At the same time, some partisanship has been deemed illegitimate. An Alexandria court has forbidden Muslim Brotherhood candidacies in the elections.

In concept this is not new; under Brotherhood influence, among others, many members of the old ruling regime were similarly barred. The tables have now turned.

You know, God, if they act from principle. And you know further if Egypt needs a restriction on religious parties in general, or on the Brotherhood in particular. But aid Egypt in the societal conversation about the relation between religion and politics, between Islam and the state. Through Islamists or others, through any and all candidates, asses the virtues of religion within acceptable political benefit.

But it is not just Islam in question. Some Christian clergy have indicated political preference, while some Christian activists are building opposition. The pope of the church supports the current crackdown, while ‘the preacher of the revolution’ is on a hunger strike.

Religion can complicate politics, God, but politics is needed. Politics can dirty, while religion can clean, but both are subject to corruption. Both, also, can enable great good.

So in the coming president, God, may good be witnessed. But moreover, establish this good in the choosing. Create parties that will represent society and hold authorities accountable, even as they produce them.

May a ruling party govern strongly, and may an opposition challenge powerfully. In both, help Egyptians to choose wisely.

Build many, God, and bar few. While there is always time, there is precious little. Create the Egyptians you desire to strengthen this country.

Amen.

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