In a few days, Copts in Upper Egypt are going to cast their votes in the presidential elections amidst expectations that only three – Ahmad Shafīq, ‘Amr Mūsá and Hamdīn Sabbāhī – will garner these votes. [Amīr al-Sarrāf, al-Wafd, May 22, p. 9] Read original text in Arabic
Copts’ choices will not be out of these three after they dropped Dr. ‘Abd al-Mun’im Abū al-Futūh out of their calculations the moment he struck alliances with Islamist groups, let alone his past as one of the leading turncoats from the Muslim Brotherhood group and the emergence of file photos of him with Afghan mujāhidīn on the social networking media facebook.
Moreover, Shafīq’s stakes became high within the circles of Copts who wish for a moderate civil leader that can adeptly interact with the citizens and understand the problems of Copts in Egypt.
The trend was aided by unconfirmed talk inside Coptic circles about the strong relations that were binding Shafīq to late Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III, who passed away in March. [Amīr al-Sarrāf, al-Wafd, May 22, p. 9] Read original text in Arabic
The question which presidential candidate Copts will vote for may be answered through two perspectives: One viewing Egyptian Christian citizens as one voting bloc that can be directed in favor of a certain candidate and the other revolves around their vision of the coming president’s traits.
The first perspective does not exist on the ground now because the current political scene indicates that Christians’ votes are going in the direction of ‘Amr Mūsá, Ahmad Shafīq, Hamdīn Sabbāhī and ‘Abd al-Mun’im Abū al-Futūh.
This, in turn, means that Copts do not have a single agreed-upon candidate as some try to propagate. The trends of Christian voters, moreover, are swinging between secular candidates and an Islamist candidate claimed to represent the moderate Islamist camp and who introduces himself as former member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The second perspective is that the main features of Egypt’s next president in the eyes of the Copts will definitely include secularist inclinations that would help achieve justice and equality among all Egyptian citizens regardless of the difference in religion, sex or social class. [Hānī Labīb, Veto, May 22, p. 15] Read text in Arabic
Acting patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church Bishop Pachomius called on Muslims and Copts to participate in the election of a new president.
“We, as a church, believe that a good ruler is sent by the Lord. Any person, Christian or not Christian, should shoulder that spiritual responsibility of casting their votes to choose a good president who would spread values of justice, endearment and peace,” he said. [‘Imād Khalīl, al-Misrī al-Yawm, May 22, p. 4] Read original text in Arabic
The Church’s Holy Synod reiterated that it will not back a certain candidate versus another, adding it stands on the same distance towards all candidates but prays that the Lord would choose for Egypt the best one who would observe justice and equality among all citizens.
“The church leaves the freedom of choice for each and every person’s conscience,” said Bishop Binyamin of al-Menoufia.
Bishop Marqus of Shubrā al-Khaymah rejected accusations against the church that it is backing a certain candidate, noting no one expresses the church except the Holy Synod and no instructions were given to vote for a definite contestant. [Husnī Mīlād and Marco ‘Ādil, al-Akhbār, May 22, p. 4] Read text in Arabic
The central committee on national awareness for Copts, affiliated to the Orthodox Church in Alexandria, apologized for not convening a conference titled “No for Directing (voters),” which was supposed to be held on Monday (May 21), due to pressures, the committee said in a statement.
The committee said in its statement that the conference was canceled to emphasize abidance by Bishop Pachomius' instructions.
The release appealed to Copts to observe the Holy Synod’s statement and to consider whoever states that they are backing a certain presidential candidate as only expressing their personal opinions, not the church’s. [Muhammad Fū’ād, al-Shurūq al-Jadīd, May 22, p. 6] Read text in Arabic
Muftī of the Republic Dr. ‘Alī Jum’ah, for his part, urged all segments of the Egyptian society to do their national duty by actively participating in the presidential elections to be held on Wednesday (May 23) and Thursday (May 24).
Jum’ah called for respecting the will of the people and the results of free and fair elections, noting Egypt’s next president will be the leader of all Egyptians from all political, partisan, intellectual and religious affiliations. [Ahmad al-Buhayrī, al-Misrī al-Yawm, May 22, p. 4] Read original text in Arabic
In another development, the al-Minya Criminal Court and the Emergency Supreme State Prosecution Court sentenced 12 to rigorous life term and acquitted eight others for fomenting sectarian strife in Abū Qurqās, al-Minya, and endangering national uinity in the Upper Egyptian governorate.
The convicts had illegally assembled with the aim of using violence and force against Muslims, leaving Mi’bid Abū Zayd and ‘Alī ‘Abd al-Qādir ‘Alī killed. [Mustafá Fū’ād, al-Ahrām, May 22, p. 19] Read original text in Arabic