It’s desperately difficult to get a true handle on the current situation in Egypt, as it’s ongoing, fluid and the authorities have severed Egypt from the Internet and disrupted telecommunications.
I’ve noted Christian bloggers urging support of the uprising and Jim laments the silence of theologians and Biblical scholars.
Personally, I am concerned that any power vacuum created by this situation could potentially be exploited by Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
I’ve been reassured – by those far more knowledgeable than I – that Islamists will not be able to take control of the country, especially if the governmental structures remain intact in some form.
As I’m no expert on internal Egyptian politics, I’m simply hoping they’re right.
Judging by the general [mis] treatment of the Christian Copt minority in Egypt – which appears to be permeate all of Egyptian society including politics – I can fully appreciate why they would wish to join with this demonstration in order to precipitate governmental and societal change.
Professor Barry Rubin is however concerned about the potential outcomes and his conclusions add to my trepidation for the Egyptian Copts.
Here’s some of what he had to say:
2) Do you see the threat of an Islamist takeover by the Ikhwa?
So far the uprising has not been led by the Muslim Brotherhood. But it is the only large organized opposition group. It is hard to see how it would not be the leading force after a while. The leadership would have to decide that it is facing a revolutionary situation and that this is the moment for an all-out effort. But if it does so and fails there will be a terrible repression and the group will be crushed. It appears that the Brotherhood is joining the protests but has not made its basic decision yet. In the longer term if the regime is completely overthrown I do believe the Brotherhood will emerge as the leader and perhaps the ruler of the country.
3) Do you see any chances that Egypt will witness the same model of Iran of 1979, the democratic protests followed by an Islamist rule?
Absolutely yes. On one hand, so far they lack a charismatic leader. On the other hand, alternative non-Islamist leadership is probably weaker than it was in Iran. Remember also that the Iranian revolution went on for almost a year, with the Islamists emerging as leaders only after five or six months. Many experts predicted that moderate democrats would emerge as rulers and said an Islamist regime was impossible but that isn’t what happened. I very much hope I am wrong.
The whole post is worth reading, even though it is largely pessimistic.
Anyway, the prospect of a future Egypt without Mubarak has brought Christians as well as Muslims to the streets:
As clashes between anti-government protesters and Egyptian police intensified on Jan. 28, some Coptic Orthodox Christians disregarded their church’s call for peaceful non-involvement – in hopes that the possible abdication of President Hosni Mubarak could advance the cause of their freedom.
Professor Emad Shahin, a political scientist at the University of Notre Dame, specializes in Islamic affairs and has been monitoring the Egyptian situation closely. He told CNA that many Coptic Christians were joining with Muslims to express their frustration with three decades of authoritarian rule.
“The different statements that called for today’s demonstrations were calling on participants to come ‘from the mosques and the churches,’ to go to public squares,” Professor Shahin explained. “We have seen evidence that some Copts have been participating in the demonstrations.”
The protesters, he said “need an end to corruption. They need the rule of law. They call for freedoms, and dignity – for social justice, and of course, for democracy.”
Officially, however, “the Egyptian Church is taking a separate side – it’s not really participating, or encouraging its members to participate in the events.”
The unprecedented protests have brought hundreds of thousands of Egyptians into the streets since Jan. 25, prompting President Mubarak to deploy security forces and shut down the means of communication – including internet access, text messaging and phone service – within the country.
At least 26 people have already been reported dead, although some government troops have allegedly refused to act against protesters. As of Jan. 28, the president was holding his ground, while acknowledging a number of economic and political grievances and demanding the resignation of his cabinet.
“This is an uprising calling for profound changes,” Shahin said. “It has narrowed down the options for the Egyptian regime: either change, or leave.”
Professor Shahin mentioned a number of statements coming from officials of the Coptic Church –including its leader, Pope Shenouda III – asking Copts not to participate in the demonstrations. They were urged, instead, to attend church services and pray for the peace and the well-being of their country.
But for many Coptic Christians, the prospect of a future without Mubarak – notwithstanding the uncertainty about who would replace him – held more appeal than the Coptic Pope’s call for restraint.
“If President Mubarak is removed, and these uprisings lead to the establishment of a true democratic system, then I think everyone will benefit,” Shahin stated. “It would ensure a fair representation of the Copts within the political structures and the state.”
“But we’re still really far from being there,” he acknowledged.
Let’s pray for a fruitful and positive outcome for ALL Egyptian citizens.