By John Newton
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.
Speaking to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Coptic Catholic Bishop Antonios Aziz Mina of Guizeh (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.
Bishop Aziz said: “The Muslim Brothers say one thing then tomorrow they do another thing. They don’t maintain their promises – that’s the problem.”
He added that it would be difficult to vote for the Muslim Brotherhood without guarantees from them.
No one was the outright victor of Egypt’s first round of presidential elections so there will be a run-off between Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, and Ahmed Shafik, formerly prime minister under President Hosni Mubarak, next month.
Mr Morsi received 5.7 million votes and Mr Shafik 5.5 million, according to Egypt’s electoral commission.
The Bishop of Guizeh emphasised the importance of a presidential candidate who would secure freedom for those of all beliefs.
He said: “Whoever will guarantee liberty and democracy and a good constitution for Egypt will have our vote.”
The bishop added: “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.
“He needs to guarantee the minimum of liberties we seek.”
The first round of presidential elections was held on the 23rd and 24th May.
Since no one candidate obtained the 50 percent plus one vote required to be elected a run-off election between Mr Morsi and Mr Shafik will be held on the 16th and 17th June.
Bishop Aziz said it was still too early to make any predictions about who will win next month’s second-round elections.
He said: “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.”
“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.”
He added: “There are two weeks until the [run-off] election and we will wait to see who can guarantee a good future for Egypt.”
However, the Coptic Catholic Bishop of Guizeh remained positive about the possibilities of democracy and religious liberty in the country.
He said: “Always I am an optimist – and at this time I choose to hope.”
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in about 130 countries throughout the world.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 162 languages and 48 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
Aid to the Church in Need UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1097984) and Scotland (SC040748). ACN’s UK office is in Sutton, Surrey and there is a Scottish office in Motherwell, near Glasgow.
While ACN gives full permission for the media to freely make use of the charity’s press releases, please acknowledge ACN as the source of stories when using the material.
For more information, contact John Pontifex, ACN UK Head of Press and Information 020 8661 5161 or John Newton, ACN Press Officer, 020 8661 5167.