Religious Freedom at Stake in Egyptian Presidential Election

Call for Guarantees of Liberty for Country's Christians

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GIZA, Egypt, MAY 30, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The results of the first round of the presidential elections in Egypt, held on May 23-24, narrowed the field to two candidates. There will be a run-off between Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, and Ahmed Shafik, formerly prime minister under President Hosni Mubarak. Egyptians will go to the polls June 16-17 to choose between them.

Mr. Morsi received 5.7 million votes and Mr. Shafik 5.5 million, according to Egypt’s electoral commission.

A senior Church leader in Egypt has expressed grave doubts about the prospects for Christians if the Muslim Brotherhood emerges victorious in the presidential elections.

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Coptic Catholic Bishop Antonios Aziz Mina of Giza said that while it was difficult to say which candidate would best guarantee liberty for the country’s Christians, he had fears about the Muslim Brotherhood taking power.

"The Muslim Brotherhood say one thing then tomorrow they do another thing. They don’t maintain their promises – that’s the problem," he said. He added that it would be difficult to vote for the Muslim Brotherhood without guarantees from them.

Bishop Aziz also emphasised the importance of a presidential candidate who would secure freedom for those of all beliefs. "Whoever will guarantee liberty and democracy and a good constitution for Egypt will have our vote," he said.

"He needs to guarantee the minimum of liberties we seek," he added.

Bishop Aziz said it was still too early to make any predictions about who will win next month’s second-round elections. "It is difficult to say while each of the two candidates has support from 25 percent of the voters and that is not so enough, as there are also more than 50 percent who voted for another candidate", he said. "They have to gain the trust of the other 50 percent and I don’t know who will obtain these votes and we will have to wait and see who can obtain their confidence and get their votes."

"There are two weeks until the [run-off] election and we will wait to see who can guarantee a good future for Egypt," he said.