Egypt's Parliamentary Elections a Turning Point for Coptic Christians

With the newly-formed Muslim Brotherhood Freedom and Justice political party advocating confidence in today's parliamentary elections in Egypt, many are questioning the fate of the country's Coptic Christians.

After Egypt's Arab Spring Uprisings in February, it was clear that change was in the air. The question remains, however, in what direction will the change go?

"[A]fter the revolution, there is a chance for change. And this change it may be in favour of liberals, it may be in favour of Copts, it may be in favour of Islamists; but where this change will lead, I doubt anyone will predict," consultant for Cairo-based engineering firm Mourad Shenouda told Aljazeera news.

Egypt's future, and subsequently the future of Egypt's Christians, currently sits at a crossroads with this election.

Tensions between Coptic Christians and Muslims have escalated since the ousting of former president Hosni Mubarak after the Arab Spring uprisings. Mubarak was an open protector of Christians, and after the Jan. 25 revolution, several radical Islamic groups gained political power.

Jordan Sekulow, director of policy and international operations at the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), contends that the problem with today's parliamentary elections "is not Muslims being elected, it depends on which Muslims."

"It's all pointing to Islamist political parties, [this is] not going to be good for human rights," Sekulow told The Christian Post on Monday.

Sekulow identifies the Muslim Brotherhood as the most organized political party in today's election. The Muslim Brotherhood is Egypt's largest political party.

The Muslim Brotherhood is considered radical in many circles, as it "rejects the candidacy of women or copts for Egypt's presidency," according to a report on the group's official English website.

On Friday, Nov. 25, the Muslim Brotherhood sponsored a rally at Al-Azhar Mosque, Cairo's most prominent mosque, attracting 5,000 worshipers.

According to the New York Daily News, the rally expressed anti-Semitic sentiment, with attendees chanting hateful mottos such as "one day kill all the Jews" and "Tel-Aviv, Tel-Aviv, Judgment day has come."

As Father Armia Toufiles of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Saint George in the Brooklyn borough of New York City told The Christian Post Monday, "It’s not just Christians versus Muslims; it's more about ideology, radical ideology."

Toufiles contends that today's elections are not about how many Muslims and how many Christians hold seats in parliament. Rather, he views today's parliamentary elections as a signifier of something far bigger for the country.

"This is an ongoing battle. I believe that these elections are not the final ones in a way," Toufiles said, adding that "a lot of the Egyptian people are getting more open-minded and more educated about what's happening."

Sekulow argues that the Muslim Brotherhood holding prominent sway in parliament could produce another anti-Western, and possibly anti-Christian, regime.

"We could go from one bad regime to another," Sekulow said.

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