Coptic Patriarch Reaffirms Church Will Not Interfere in Egypt's Elections

Fellow Bishop Supports View to Leave Election to Free Discernment of the Faithful

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Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II has reaffirmed his stance that the Coptic Orthodox Church will refrain from any direct involvement in the parliamentary election campaign in Egypt in the coming months of March and April.

According to Fides, the patriarch said in statements issued Monday Jan. 10 on the feast of the Coptic Epiphany, that the Coptic Orthodox Church «will not point out any name» of a candidate to be supported.

Moreover, the patriarch stated, the Church will not exercise «any interference» in the free choice of political representatives on behalf of the Egyptian people.

Since 2012 when the North African nation’s constitutional court dissolved the parliamentary assembly dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood by saying the electoral law was unconstitutional, Egypt has not had a parliament.

The Society of the Muslim Brothers, now referred to as the Muslim Brotherhood, is an Islamist organization founded in Egypt in 1928 by Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna, which over the years spread rapidly throughout Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, and North Africa. The Brotherhood, at its height in the 1940s, had about 500,000 members and advocates a return to the Qur’an for a healthy, modern Islamic society.

Experiencing a renewal in the 1980s, the Brotherhood claimed more seats in parliament, running as independents, but in more recent years, was effectively eliminated as the administration of former President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, not only won their seats with his National Democratic Party members, but also arrested, restricted and barred the Brotherhood’s members from voting.

Mubarak led the nation almost 30 years but was swept from power after massive protests in February 2011.

The new House of Representatives is expected to have 567 members. Of this number, the electoral system reserves 120 seats to lists «blocked» by candidates nominated by different parties: at least 56 seats have to be occupied by women, 24 by Christian candidates, 32 from universities belonging to the social category for farmers and 8 by people with disabilities.

Last July, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II told the Bishops of the Coptic Orthodox Church to refrain from any direct involvement in the election campaign.

Recently, Coptic Catholic Bishop of Guizeh, Anba Antonios Aziz Mina, told Fides: «This perspective is shared by all the Churches in Egypt: to encourage participating in the vote, leaving the free discernment of the faithful the choice on parties and candidates to vote.”

Although sectors of the population linked to the Muslim Brotherhood could support the candidates of the Al-Nour Party, the bishop added, «The Muslim Brotherhood has been precluded by law the opportunity to submit its own list.”

The Al-Nour Party is a political party created in Egypt after the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. It has an ultra-conservative Islamist ideology, which believes in implementing strict Sharia law. 

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