Western human rights activists and religious liberty advocates say no matter the result of this week’s election in Egypt, the Christians will lose.
Two of the leading candidates for president in the vote today and tomorrow are Islamic radicals: the Muslim Brotherhood-backed and California-educated Mohammed Morsi, and Abdel-Moneim Abul Fotouh, 61, a former Muslim Brotherhood leader who believes the 9/11 attacks were a U.S.-hatched conspiracy.
The Copts, as WND reports, quietly are supporting former Arab League head Amr Moussa and former Mubarak prime minister and Air Force commander Ahmed Shafiq as alternatives to the radicals.
But American Enterprise Institute Middle East analyst Michael Rubin contends that regardless of the outcome, the persecution of Christians that has increased since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in the “Arab Spring” revolution last year will only get worse.
‘”The results will be bad, really bad,” Rubin said. “The Muslim Brotherhood has shed its mask, and so too has Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh.”
Fotouh has been labeled a “liberal Islamist” because he believes a Christian should be able to run for president.
“The fact that diplomats and journalists describe him as a ‘moderate Islamist’ when he argues 9/11 was an inside job and defends Bin Laden demonstrates just how out-of-touch diplomats can be,” Rubin said.
Middle East Forum Executive Director Daniel Pipes said the increasing power of the radicals means a more strident anti-Christian government in Egypt.
“I wouldn’t call it genocide. I would call it ‘eliminationist,'” Pipes said. “Many Muslims don’t want there to be Christians living in Egypt.
“They want to remove them and push them out,” Pipes said. “It’s growing and reaching ever more unpleasant and tragic consequences.”
International Christian Concern Middle East specialist Aidan Clay said that because the Muslim Brotherhood is gaining strength, the Christians are reluctantly choosing to rally behind former members of Mubarak’s government.
Clay, who noted he was in Egypt a few days ago, said the Christian vote appeared to be split between Moussa and Shafiq.
“While Christians are not satisfied with either candidate, the only alternative is an Islamist president,” Clay explained. “If an Islamist is elected, Islamists will have complete control over both the legislature and the executive branch, which would be disastrous for the Christian community and all religious minorities in Egypt.”
Pipes said he believes the military is still ultimately in control.
“It’s the military. The military runs Egypt. It’s run Egypt for 60 years,” Pipes said.
“Yet the military and the Muslim Brotherhood have a long history of cooperation, but at the same time they’re rivals. Tensions have increased over the past year,” Pipes said. “Yet it’s still a military dictatorship as it was under Mubarak, Sadat and Nasser.”
Pipes said the chief question is whether the Muslim Brotherhood can wrest power from the military.
Clay said the increasing power of the Brotherhood and its Salafi allies is the biggest threat to the Christians. He added that the proof is in the numbers.
He pointed out Islamists have about 80 percent of the seats in Egypt’s two houses of parliament. A quarter of the seats are held by Salafis, his noted, “the very group that led violent mob attacks that killed Christians and burned churches.”
“Meanwhile, the parliament has made strong efforts to rewrite Egypt’s constitution to be based on Islamic law, meaning that the few rights that religious minorities have in Egypt may also be taken from them,” Clay said.
Clay said the worst outcome would be the election of Morsi, who has publicly called for an Islamic law state based on the Quran as the foundation of Egypt’s constitution.
Clay added that the tragic irony is that Coptic Christians were key participants in the revolution that overthrew Mubarak in February 2011.
“Christians had hoped the uprising would give them equal rights after having lived under a climate of oppression for decades,” Clay said. “However, the situation has only worsened. The young Egyptians who started the revolution and demanded greater freedoms were not organized to lead the country.”
Rubin noted the radical groups were organized and well-funded.
“The Muslim Brotherhood are extremely well-funded by the Qataris, Saudis and Turks. Such is the price of the United States leading from behind and working through these deeply flawed allies. After the new parliament crafts the new constitution, the Islamists will solidify their control at the expense of democracy and accountability,” Rubin said.
Clay agreed that the Brotherhood and the Saudi-financed Salafis were best equipped to dominate the political process.
He added that the empowered Salafis and Brotherhood have acted with impunity.
“With weakened security forces and without the strong hand of Mubarak’s regime, Islamists have had nearly free rein to attack Christians, churches and just about anything they deem contrary to their interpretation of Islam, including liquor stores and Sufi shrines,”Clay said.
The churches have born the brunt of the attacks.
More than 60 Egyptian Christians were killed in attacks last year. Among them was a May 7, 2011, attack by Salafis on two churches in the poor Imbaba district of Cairo that killed 12 Christians.