Christians in Egypt are hopeful following the election of a new Egyptian president that they will be protected from Muslim extremist attacks.
Reuters reported on Thursday that retired Field Marshall Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has received more than 95 percent of the 25 million plus votes that were cast. It was the first elections since the fall of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi last year, who was removed following a public uprising that led to clashes between army forces and pro-Islamist supporters. Many Christians were also targeted by Islamic mobs who blamed them for supporting Morsi's removal.
"Many Christians, and even Muslims, think that Sisi saved them from the Islamic groups and he is the hero and savior that we are all waiting for. In Egypt you have to choose from two choices: Military or Islamist. So, if I am Christian, for sure I'll choose the military even if I don't like them," said Mahmoud Farouk, executive director of the Egyptian Center for Public Policy Studies, according to International Christian Concern.
ICC, a persecution watchdog group, noted that some citizens in Egypt feel that El-Sisi played a key role in bringing down Morsi and in doing so protected Christians. But there is still a long road ahead to ensure the country stabilizes and such attacks come to an end.
"The Christian paid a precious price to remove the Muslim Brotherhood. Their properties were looted, destroyed and burnt. Many churches were burnt, destroyed and demolished," said Father Youannis Shawky, a priest from Minya province.
"I support El-Sisi," Shawky stated. "He was a divine providence to save the Egyptians from the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood and I think that El-Sisi is capable of ending the chaos in Egypt and ensuring equality among all Egyptians."
Hany Farouk, a Christian from Sohag in Upper Egypt, said he is pessimistic and fears that the situation might even get worse for followers of Christ because Muslim Brotherhood supporters will again target them for lending their support to El-Sisi.
"So after the success of El-Sisi, the attacks against Christians, their properties and churches in Egypt will be increased to take revenge on the Christians, to incite the sectarian strife between Muslims and Christians, to weaken Egypt, and to show to the whole world that El-Sisi failed to protect the Egyptian Christians," Farouk predicted.
El-Sisi faces a challenge to restore trust in the Egyptian government after years of turmoil, and the voting turnout was only 46 percent of Egypt's 53 million voters – much less than the 80 percent he had called for last week.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which was declared a terrorist group following its fall from power, insists that Morsi remains the rightful president of Egypt.
"Sisi and those with him have to admit that Egypt is against them and the Dr. Mohamed Mursi is their president and the president of all Egyptians," a statement from an Islamist alliance that includes the Brotherhood said.
Many Egyptians remain hopeful that El-Sisi will, however, be able to keep his promises and restore the country.
"I support him because he has promised us that he will do his best to serve the Egyptian citizen and eliminate the illiteracy and he will combat the terrorism in Egypt and defend the Christians [and] the church. He also has promised the youth that he will create new jobs for them," Nariman Gaber, a Christian woman in Cairo, said.