A party formed by the Muslim Brotherhood to run in Egypt’s next parliamentary elections has chosen a Coptic intellectual as its vice president, in an effort to broaden its appeal.
Rafiq Habib has been selected for the position in the Freedom and Justice Party as the Muslim Brotherhood seeks to establish its position in Egypt after years of being hamstringed by the ruling party.
Submitting its legal papers to the party affairs committee for approval on Wednesday, the party’s secretary general, Mohamed Saad el-Katatni, said it now had nearly 9,000 members, including 978 women and 93 Coptic Christians.
“The party is open to all Egyptians, Muslims and Copts alike,” he said.
While confirming that the party would campaign for civic state “with religious reference” to Islam as the official state religion, he sought to assure that the rights and freedoms of Coptic Christians would be guaranteed. The elections are scheduled for the fall.
Since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, Christians have feared that the Muslim Brotherhood will seek to establish an Islamic state.
If that happens, they believe the discrimination they experienced under the previous regime will only get worse.
Coptic human rights activist Wagih Yacoub said in a report by International Christian Concern: “There is no doubt that the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis are allied. The Brotherhood plays politics and the Salafis are causing chaos so they can empty Egypt of Christians and make it an Islamic state."
“Lots of Egyptian people, including moderate Muslims, are worried. If Egypt becomes an Islamic state, it may mean civil war," he added. "We won’t get protection from the military council or the police forces. Our homes will be attacked at any minute, any time.
“Lots of people are scared. How will we protect ourselves? There will be bloodshed.”
Fears of an Islamic takeover have only intensified after the burning of two churches by Muslims in Cairo earlier this month.
The torching of the churches triggered violent clashes that left 12 people dead.