- (Photo: Reuters/Suhaib Salem)
Dr. Michael Youssef, founding pastor of the 3,000 member Church of the Apostles in Atlanta, who was born in Egypt, said that the ousting of former president Mohamed Morsi is a good thing for Christians in the North African country because the Muslim Brotherhood had kept Christians away from voting during the election by threatening to shoot them.
"As far as Christians are concerned, they are very happy with the outcome," Youssef said in an interview with The Christian Post on Monday. "(Morsi) was slowly replacing all government officials from top to bottom, from cabinet ministers to governors, getting rid of other people – he gets rid of them if they are not Islamists, and he appoints Muslim Brotherhood in their places."
Youssef, who is also the founder of Leading the Way, an international ministry program that stretches out to more than 200 countries, revealed that unbeknown to many people in America, the Muslim Brotherhood, which is behind Morsi, had been threatening Christians at the voting booths.
"I know this firsthand because I know folks on the ground. In thousands of villages, during the election, they stood with guns outside the polling booths. And if a Christian wanted to go in to vote, they would say 'You go in, and we'll kill you.' And so hundreds of thousands of Christians couldn't vote."
Morsi was ousted from his presidential seat last week, with the military also suspending the constitution after millions took to the streets to protest. Clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents turned deadly with dozens dead, and the country yet to set a date for new elections to elect a new president.
Youssef noted that less than 40 percent of the Egyptian voting public cast their vote when it came to the new constitution, and 40 percent of those who voted, did so against it.
"It is the beginning of introducing Sharia Law, which is why one of the first things the army did was suspend the constitution, because it's not really constitutional," Youssef added.
President Obama's administration has found itself in a troublesome situation with Morsi's ousting, given that it publicly and financially supported the Morsi government.
After the ousting, the White House posted an official statement:
"The United States is monitoring the very fluid situation in Egypt, and we believe that ultimately the future of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people. Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsy and suspend the Egyptian constitution."
Obama said: "I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsy and his supporters."
The Church of The Apostles founder, who has also written a blog for CP on the issue, offered that the reason why President Obama and former President George W. Bush gave their support to Islamic governments in the past is because they believe that would be an effective way to stop terrorism.
"It is not a Republican or Democrat issue," Youssef told CP. "The Americans thought from September 11 on that you can fight Islam with Islam. You put a Muslim Brotherhood or Muslim Islamists in government, than they will keep terrorism away."
As for the hopes of the 10-15 percent of Christians living in Egypt, the pastor said that their best chances lie in the election of an "even-handed, fair-minded Muslim individual, and not an extremist Islamist like the Muslim Brotherhood."
Mounir Bishay, president of the Los Angeles-based Christian Copts of California, added in a separate statement that the revolution has been "one of the greatest events in Egypt's modern history."
He denied reports that have tried to portray what is happening as a military coup, insisting that Egyptians had the right to rise up and remove the elected government from power for failing to live up to promises.
"While in office, President Morsy not only failed to deliver on his campaign promises, but he mishandled the economy, leading Egypt to the verge of bankruptcy," Bishay said.
"He pushed through a constitution written exclusively by Islamists, allowed extremists to openly persecute Coptic Christians with impunity, and primarily concentrated on garnering political power for Islamists by appointing them to key positions throughout Egypt, including the appointment of a member of the terrorist organization Gamaa Islameya to the Luxor governorship."
Amid the general instability and high emotions in the Egypt currently, a Coptic priest was shot dead over the weekend in attacks believed to have been organized by the Muslim Brotherhood, seeking revenge against Christians who they say supported the military's actions to remove Morsi.
"Every Coptic home they loot, they torch afterwards – Muslim homes are spared," a local Coptic Christian said of other attacks in Upper Egypt. "Most Copts are outside of the village, not knowing whether their homes are still there or looted and torched."