The truth is I have absolutely no idea what the impact will be on the Egyptian Copts following the election of the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohammed Mursi to the Egyptian presidency.
Everywhere I look there’s conflicting views on this.
The interim Coptic Pope, Bishop Pachomius, has congratulated Mursi, whilst Bishop Passanty’s comments are probably the most revealing:
If you are elected president, remember all that you have said — that Christians have the same duties and rights that Muslims have… If you abide by this, we would respect you as the president of Egypt and welcome the Islamic rule that would establish a civil state with equal citizenship rights for all Egyptians.
Ultimately, I think Max Wind-Cowie is right; we’ll have to reserve judgement, wait and see, and hope for the best.
UPDATE: Interesting comments from the Anglican Bishop of Egypt, The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis:
Mursi promised to be a president for all Egyptians, to appoint a prime minister who is not from the Muslim Brotherhood, and moreover he promised to appoint a Christian vice-president. He made these promises to calm the widespread anxiety of the moderate Muslims and the Christians, who were hoping for a secular government. It is worth mentioning that over the last eight months, the Muslim Brotherhood has lost a lot of support because when they became the biggest party in the Egyptian parliament, they tried to dominate the committee which was responsible for writing the constitution. In addition, the Muslim Brotherhood promised that they would not nominate a presidential candidate; however they changed their mind and nominated Mursi. They also did not give any attention over the last year to the hardships of the Christians in Egypt. All of these reasons were behind the narrow margin in today’s election results.
The fear now is that Mursi will not fulfill his promises, and will try to control the government, the police and the upcoming parliamentary elections. If Egypt became an Islamic state, this will mean that Christians will be marginalized. It is true that today he withdrew from the Muslim Brotherhood Party; however he will continue to be influenced by their ideology. Some writers express their fears that if the Muslim Brotherhood gained control of Egypt, they will stay in power for more than 100 years.
The High Military Council, being aware of this anxiety, took several decisions last week to limit the authority of the incoming president, and to ensure that Egypt stays as a secular state. Either the Council, or 20% of the members of the committee that is writing the constitution, can object to any article of the constitution. The Constitutional Court will be responsible for making a final decision on such articles. Mursi will not have the upper hand over the army and the defense of the country, but he will be a member of a Council for Defence. I am aware that some Western governments are critical of these decisions; however we see them as important measures to guarantee a secular state.
We as a church accept the results of the election. We are committed to praying for Mursi, and we hope that he will fulfill his promises. We will continue to speak out if there is any deviation in our democratic journey. We trust in God and His promises in the middle of this uncertainty and anxiety. He promised that the gates of Hades will never overcome His church. Please pray for our beloved country Egypt.