As Egypt’s parliamentary elections progress, Islamic political party the Muslim Brotherhood downplays an expected Islamic victory and Coptic Christians fear further marginalization.
The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest political party, held a 37 percent electoral following as of Sunday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Tuesday marks the second day of runoff elections, in which fundamentalist group Salafist Al-Nour came in second with 24 percent of ballots, the San Francisco Chronicle contends.
The secular Egyptian Bloc party, which is said to be silently backed by the Coptic Christian church, came in third with 13 percent of votes.
Mohammed Badie, chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood, spoke to private television station Al-Mehwar in an attempt to assuage fears of strict Islamic law under his political party, which was founded in 1928.
Badie assured the television station that pursuit of a democratic government would continue under Muslim rule:
“There will be reconciliation between the three powers: the parliament, the government and the military ruling council,” Badie said Tuesday, The Associated Press reports.
“We must live in harmony not only with the military council, but with all of Egypt’s factions, or else the conclusion is zero,” Badie said.
Many fear the Muslim Brotherhood will continue a close relationship with Egypt’s current military government, thus continuing the oppressive rule of former President Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted from power during the February uprisings.
“In the long run, holding this election now will prove disastrous for the world at large because if the [Muslim Brotherhood] gains hold of power in Egypt, they will never relinquish that power,” Michael Meunier, president and co-founder of the U.S. Copts Association previously told The Christian Post.
Two supra-constitutional articles were issued earlier this month ensuring the exemption of Egypt's army from parliamentary oversight. This means that a new parliament will not change the current role of Egypt's military.
Christians are also concerned about a ruling Islamic group, fearing that the intermingling of religion and politics will further marginalize an already diminished Coptic population.
“The risk is that Islamist parties will gain substantial influence, and political debates ultimately will become debates about the proper interpretation of Shariah [Islamic law], and that’s a conversation in which the Copts won’t have any part,” said Eric Trager, a fellow of the Washington Institute for Near Ear Policy, to The Washington Times in October.
The complexity of Egypt's parliamentary elections involves an enduring six-week process, and the final composition of the new parliament will not be announced until January.