Egyptian bishop hopes next president will protect Christians

Coptic Catholic Bishop Antonios Aziz Mina Credit Aid to the Church in Need CNA500x315 World Catholic News 5 29 12 Coptic Catholic Bishop Antonios Aziz Mina. | ACN.

The Egyptian elections are causing serious doubts among the country's Christians about whether the next president will protect their rights, with the Muslim Brotherhood's commitment being especially unclear, a senior Catholic bishop in Egypt has said.

"We have a situation with the elections and the constitution and the future of our country – whoever wants to be president needs to guarantee a good constitution, in which everyone will be able to find his place in our country," Coptic Catholic Bishop Antonios Aziz Mina of Giza told Aid to the Church In Need in an interview published May 28.

The next president, whoever he is, "needs to guarantee the minimum of liberties we seek," he stated.

"Whoever will guarantee liberty and democracy and a good constitution for Egypt will have our vote."

From June 16-17, Egypt will hold a run-off election between Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi and former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq. They were the top candidates in the May 23-24 elections. Morsi won almost 5.8 million votes, about 25 percent of the electorate, while Shafiq won 5.5 million votes, almost 24 percent.

The Muslim Brotherhood has promised reforms of the government recently headed by ousted president Hosni Mubarak. It has also proposed more rule under Islamic law, causing fear among other Muslims, secular Egyptians, and the Christian minority who fear restrictions on their rights.

Bishop Aziz voiced doubts about the Muslim Brotherhood's aims.

“The Muslim Brothers say one thing, then tomorrow they do another thing. They don’t maintain their promises – that’s the problem,” he said.

It would be difficult to vote for the Muslim Brotherhood without guarantees from them, the bishop said.

On May 29, Mosni tried to reassure Christians. At a Cairo press conference, he said he planned to appoint Christians as presidential advisors and name one as vice president "if possible," the Associated Press reports.

"Our Christian brothers, they are partners in the nation. They will have full rights that are equal to those enjoyed by Muslims," he said.

The presidential candidate said he would not impose an Islamic dress code on women in public and promised them full rights in work and in education.

Both Mosni and Shafiq will try to win 50 percent of the vote. The anti-Islamic vote was split in the presidential election's first round, a fact that will further complicate the runoff election.

Shafiq, a former air force commander, has campaigned on a law-and-order platform. He split with former foreign minister Amr Moussa the votes of those who preferred former members of the Mubarak government.

However, Shafiq is facing anger over his ties to the Mubarak regime.

On May 28, protestors burned down the Cairo headquarters of his campaign, and many voters have vowed that they will not cast their ballot for a “feloul” (remnant) of the toppled government.

Voter turnout in the first round was 46 percent.

More in Middle East - Africa

Bishop Aziz said it is difficult to say who will win.

"There are two weeks until the election and we will wait to see who can guarantee a good future for Egypt," he said, remaining positive about the future of democracy in Egypt.

"Always I am an optimist – and at this time I choose to hope.”

The runoff presidential election will be held June 16-17.

Our mission is the truth. Join us!

Your monthly donation will help our team continue reporting the truth, with fairness, integrity, and fidelity to Jesus Christ and his Church.