(Photo: Reuters/Suhaib Salem)
A nationwide rally in Egypt occurring today could be the biggest political event in the country's history, surpassing even the tens of millions who demonstrated in June, predicted Egyptian-born pastor and Middle East broadcaster Michael Youssef, who said huge crowds were already hitting the streets.
The massive rally is to show support for Army General Abdel Fatta al-Sisi, who took leadership after former President Mohammed Morsi was ousted, and to demonstrate the people's commitment to "Egypt Against Terrorism."
"Egyptians love a party – by 11 o'clock their time, I will not be surprised to hear they will have more than they had before – more than the 30 million on the 30th of June," Youssef, a native Egyptian who leads the "number one watched Christian television station in the Arab world," told The Christian Post Friday.
Last month, in what many have called "the largest political event in history," a quarter of Egypt's population protested against the Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi.
While speaking to CP, Youssef was watching local TV, which streamed "12 cameras in 12 different cities," where huge crowds emerged after breaking their Ramadan fast.
"Every city has got a demonstration today," Youssef said. He recounted General Sisi's speech on Wednesday urging Egyptians to give the military a mandate "to confront possible violence and terrorism," which followed in the wake of Muslim Brotherhood leader Morsi's deposition.
The masses also hail on Friday the official arrest of former President Morsi, who will be detained for 15 days pending investigation. "Now, officially, he's under arrest while they're doing the investigation of him escaping from prison and communicating with foreign powers," Youssef said.
The Christian megachurch pastor expressed complete support for Sisi and his provisional government. He said the general is giving the people of Egypt "every opportunity to be part of the political process."
Youssef, born in Egypt, attended an Australian seminary before receiving his master's in theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, and became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1984. He serves as pastor of The Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, Ga., with a congregation of over 3,000, according to his website. He also heads Leading The Way ministry, which broadcasts "the number one watched Christian television station in the Arab world," Kingdom Sat, to 160 million homes.
The Christian broadcaster took great pains to explain the true situation in Egypt, apart from the "Western narrative." "The military only moved for one reason," he said. "When the 30 million people took to the streets, they said 'we are the guardians of the Egyptian people. We're not the guardians of this president, whose election is really questionable at best.'"
Youssef repeated a discovery, in documents found after the revolution, which he published two weeks ago on his blog, that the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate Morsi did not win the election. Nevertheless, the U.S. Ambassador in Cairo, Anne Patterson, pressured the military counsel to declare Morsi the winner to avoid bloodshed.
"Obama felt that with an Islamist president, there would be less chance of blood in the streets," Youssef explained. "The narrative in the West is the military came in and removed the president. They didn't!"
When Sisi forced Morsi to abdicate, the pastor explained, the military leader confronted the Muslim Brotherhood president saying he had to protect the 30 million protestors. "You brought 3,000 terrorists, jihadis, and placed them in Sinai, and we didn't say anything," Youssef paraphrased Sisi. "You constantly told the police not to interfere when your folks are burning churches and killing Christians, now I'm advising you."
"Now, you act as a statesman and bring people here for reconciliation," the pastor continued paraphrasing. Morsi, on the other hand, said "absolutely not. Obama will support me, he'll send American troops to keep me in power…either we rule or we kill."
Then Sisi shared power with the chief justice of the constitutional court and other judges, and later appointed an acting president, Adly Mansour. "This was a response to the will of the Egyptian people," Youssef stated. "It was not a coup."
In the weeks following Morsi's overthrow, violence has escalated – especially against Christians – in Egypt. Nevertheless, this Egyptian-born American pastor expressed hope for the future. "Hopefully after today, this will be a mandate for the military and police to" crack down on all violence.