Egypt’s Coptic Christians continue to protest military rule, and fear further marginalization with the upcoming parliamentary elections starting Nov. 28.
Over recent months, Christians in the predominately Islamic country are anxious about their future, because Islamic groups, which remained underground or inactive during the rule of the now ousted president Hosni Mubarak, became more socially and politically active following the fall of the regime in a Jan. 25 revolution.
The Egyptian Union for Human Rights recently conducted a poll revealing 67 percent of 40,000 Christians will not vote in the early November parliamentary elections.
Coptics argue the newly amended election will most likely not allow Christians to hold a seat in parliament. As Gulf News contends, only one-third of Egypt’s 498-seat parliament allows for individual representatives.
Christians must work their way into this one-third margin to be represented in parliament. The new elections will also expand electoral districts, thus diluting the votes of the Coptic minority.
Many fear the current Military regime and Islamic radicals are creating a sectarian society against Christians, whose population already diminished by 95,000 since the wave of uprisings began in February.
“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.
Republican G.O.P. candidate Newt Gingrich said he sees the Arab spring uprisings as an "anti-Christian spring."
Recently, parliament contenders have infiltrated Islamic places of worship to preach their electoral message.
“The enforcement of God's law is coming," said Islamic contender Sobhi Saleh in a sermon in Alexandria.
Tension between Christians and Muslims heightened after Oct. 9, when 27 protesters were killed during a peaceful protest against the burning of a Coptic Church in Southern Aswan on Sept. 30.
Many blamed the military for the violence, arguing the Military regime and state television created a sectarian society, pitting Christians against Muslims and the military.
Since this savage clash, Christians have taken to the streets and protested Egypt’s progressive lack of religious plurality.
Although Egypt’s current ruling Military regime promised to step down after upcoming parliamentary elections, they changed their tune in October, saying they will maintain complete power of Egypt’s government until there is a ratification of a new constitution and a formation of a constitutional assembly.
Christians fear continued military rule could slight any chances of religious freedom in Egypt.