Egypt – Extremists’ election success sparks fear

Catholic leaders in Egypt have expressed alarm after Islamist groups achieved shocking success in the first round of parliamentary elections, gaining more than 65 percent of the vote.

The hardline Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party received 45 percent, but the big surprise was the Nour Party, backed by the even more extremist Salafist Islamists, which received 21 percent.

Father Antoine Rafic GreicheIn the elections, held last week in nine of Egypt’s 27 provinces including Cairo and Alexandria, a coalition of secular parties received only 25 percent.

Citing these statistics in an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Father Antoine Rafic Greiche, official spokesman for the Catholic Church in Egypt, said, “We were expecting the Muslim Brothers to do well, but we did not expect at all the success of the Salafists.”

“Their success is a big surprise and a cause for alarm not just for Christians but for moderate Muslims who will be very annoyed by what has happened.”

Explaining the threat posed by Salafists and the Nour Party, Father Greiche said, “The Salafists speak about forbidding tourism, preventing women from wearing swimming costumes and forcing them to be totally covered up.”

“They look at Christians and even moderate Muslims as Kuffars [derogatory term for non-Muslims] and say they want to implement the Shari’a Islamic law rigorously.”

Pointing out that Salafists had taken responsibility for a number of attacks on churches this year, Father Greiche said, “The Salafists’ attitude to Christians is to say that they can get their passport to go to the USA, France, UK or somewhere else in the West.”

“They always talk about Egypt as a Muslim country, even though there are up to 13 million Christians living here.”

He said that the Muslim Brotherhood were also hardline but would be angered by the Salafists, who by comparison have very limited political experience.

Coptic Catholic Bishop Kyrillos William of Assiut, Upper Egypt, said, “We are not afraid of the Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

“The success of the Salafists has surprised us, but we must wait and see what happens in the next two rounds of the elections.”

Meanwhile Coptic Catholic Bishop Antonios Aziz Mina of Giza said, “The Muslim Brothers know what they are doing. I am afraid what they, and the Salafists, might do if they got power.”

But both bishops and Father Greiche warned of pre-judging the situation, stressing that the elections were still in an early phase.

Father Greiche said that in Cairo and Alexandria, accusations of electoral malpractice had resulted in part of the vote being thrown out and reset for next month.

Bishop William said, “We have to wait and see what happens next. The secular and liberal parties are very young and they may develop as time goes on, collecting more support.”

Bishop Aziz said, “What we have seen over these past few days is only the first phase. It is too early to say what these results are going to mean.”

The next stages of the three-round elections will take place Wednesday, December 14th, and January 3rd, 2012, and will include provinces and towns and more conservative and rural districts.

A footnote regarding Aid to the Church In Need.

The international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has been elevated by Benedict XVI to the status of a pontifical foundation.
The decision was enacted by a chirograph, an official document in Latin personally signed by the Pope.

The Holy Father named the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, the president of the foundation. He in turn nominated Baron Johannes Heereman von Zuydtwyck as executive president. The appointments took effect Dec. 1.

The official seat of the foundation is the Vatican but the international headquarters of ACN will remain in Königstein, near Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The organization also has 17 national offices in Europe, North and South America and Australia.

ACN is supported by over 600,000 friends and benefactors who finance approximately 5,000 aid projects every year in over 140 different countries. In 2010 the total amount of donations came to €85 million ($114 million).

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10 Responses to Egypt – Extremists’ election success sparks fear

  1. kathleen says:

    How worrying this is for the 10% of Egypt’s Christians! Let’s hope the threat these Islamic fundamentalist groups pose the future of Egypt get finally beaten in the elections…….. but is that just wishful thinking? Somewhat like crying for the moon? I am fearful for the future of the millions of Christians who will be ill treated and persecuted if the fundamentalists get into power.

    Didn’t we all doubt the so-called “Arab Spring” – that sounded so wonderful – in these Muslim countries that have recently overthrown their dictators?


  2. Toadspittle says:

    It’s invariably ugly for minorities.
    This lot currently getting a kicking happen to be Christian.
    Other times, the minority is Jewish, or Muslim or Hindu, or whatever.
    Then it’s their turn to get beaten up.

    Ideally, it’s best always to be in the majority. Doesn’t matter what it is.
    One can always change, as the regime falls.

    Yes, very cynical.

    “Didn’t we all doubt the so-called “Arab Spring” – that sounded so wonderful – in these Muslim countries that have recently overthrown their dictators?”

    Well, some of us did.


  3. afmm says:

    Probably correct, Toad, about the Arab ‘spring’. I retain a small measure of hope about some of the countries involved.

    Some of us offer Masses for all the persecuted Xians in the Middle East and also for our Jewish friends who were expelled some decades ago. What can we do but offer masses?
    Well, we can (US/UK) vote for people who will not put up with the Islamists. Also, if we knew the country and were fit we could try to help the Copts, etc. directly.

    I am somewhat puzzled about your reference to it being the turn of the Muslims to get beaten up.
    Do you refer perhaps to the Reconquista? If so, a very complicated subject — studied it for years — but let us all give a heads up to Charles Martel. And do not forget Lepanto (in which M Cervantes fought) and which was helped mightily by Our Lady.

    You probably are not going to like this post but I quite like you most of the time.



  4. JabbaPapa says:

    I was rather surprised at how “European” the uprisings felt at the time, but of course those living in the capital are just another minority.

    Still, it does give some hope that local concerns could prevail against the national tide, if a new majority attempted some variant form of oppression…

    … I hope … 😦


  5. Toadspittle says:

    “And do not forget Lepanto (in which M Cervantes fought) and which was helped mightily by Our Lady. You probably are not going to like this post but I quite like you most of the time.”

    Well, AnneM, you are wrong on two counts. I do like your post, and Lepanto was won by “modern” firepower against bows and arrows.

    Clavijo was another matter, however.


  6. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    I am curious as to what you mean by ‘we can vote (UK/US) for people who will not put up with the Islamists’.


  7. Wall Eyed Mr Whippy says:

    K is right to be concerned for the many Christians at the mercy of fundamentalists. She also wrote of the overthrow of dictators in the Middle East.

    Its a funny old world, because one of the worst dictators (who of course had a lot of oil) gave no trouble at all to Christians, tho many have fled since he was killed, scores of thousands I believe. . This of course was ole’ Saddam Hussein, whose country was attacked for no honest reason at all. Up to a million died in the war for various reasons. We dont hear much about that in our collaborative press, perhaps because they were Muslims mostly.

    The Muslims I mean, not the press…..mind you…I dunno….


  8. Toadspittle says:


    Yes, AnneM, Toad did have the Reconquest in mind. But also the partition of India, in ’47, when Hindus and Muslims jointly beat each other up. Or the Balkans more recently where Muslims also got rather a nasty hammering for being Muslims.
    Everywhere Jews are in a minority they have been oppressed. When they are in a majority, well then they don’t get oppressed. We will say no more on that.

    When Catholics get their chance to oppress, they generally take it.
    Bullying really seems to be human nature. Darwinian, perhaps.
    (Don’t get the impression from this that Toad is pro-Muslim, by the way. He is not.)


  9. teresa says:

    Toad, I agree that bullying does seem to be human nature. Interpreted in the language of our Church, I think it is the sinful and fallen nature of human beings. Christians are not supposed to suppress the others, as Holy Father stresses again and again. But then, there are indeed a lot of Catholics who disagree with Holy Father. The desire to have power over the others and exert control is so tempting, and isn’t it a temptation of the Devil? I think so. When Jesus was fasting and praying in the desert, the Devil came to him and offered him the power over the whole world, but Jesus refused. When Jesus was captured, it was the Temple aristocracy who used the secular power to suppress the religious freedom. While Jesus, though God and man at the same time, didn’t even think of protesting with violence. I think suppressing is very much un-Christian, but alas, Christians are prone to this temptation, like the most human beings in the world.

    I have experienced myself and seen how Christians, as a minority, are suppressed and bullied and deprived of their freedom of religion and opinion. That is why I strongly support the religious freedom as proclaimed in Vat. II, and the separation of Church and State. That is why I also oppose Catholic dictatorship like Franco’s regime. Though it looks like Catholic, it is in its core a perversion of Christianity.


  10. teresa says:

    As for control, a good marriage demands mutual respect, if one of the partners tries to control the other, the marriage will be flawed. A Christian society as a perfect society, like is taught by the Church fathers, is also based on the free assent and free will of all its members. Control, power, violence, are of devilish origin.


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