One of the blocs not voting for the Islamists consists of Christian Copts, who make for some 12-15 million people. Not only does an AFP report capture their mood well, but it demonstrates how Egypt’s non-Muslims are so convinced that any Islamist president, including the oxymoronic “liberal Islamists” like Abul Futuh, will lead to even more intolerance for Christians—a reminder of reality from those non-Muslims on the ground.
[V]oting lines were long, and the worry and tension felt by many Christians was palpable.
“I don’t want the Islamists. If they come to power and I oppose them, they will say I am criticizing their religion and who knows what they’ll do to me? We can’t talk to them,” said 57-year-old Sanaa Rateb after casting her ballot…. Nassim Ghaly, a young man with a cross tattooed on his wrist in the distinctive manner of Egyptian Christians, interjected: “God protect us if the Islamists come to power and they control the parliament and the presidency at the same time.”…. “What we want is a non-religious state,” which would guarantee the rights of all religious groups, Sanaa Halim, in her sixties, said. “The Islamist trends are worrying,” one of her friends added, declining to give her name. “And what have they done in parliament? Nothing, except talk about women and female circumcision.”
Indeed, above and beyond the recent clash between Egypt’s Islamists and the military—where the former exposed their jihadi face, losing some popular support—the elected Islamist-majority parliament is increasingly seen as a disappointment, more interested in banning toys that “humiliate Islam” and legalizing “death-sex,” rather than addressing the country’s economic woes. As another voter put it, “I voted for the Brotherhood in parliament elections. Now they want to control religious tourism, this is what I got from them. The parliament has failed.”
Likewise, Ryan Mauro reports that “the secularists have benefited from a sharp fall in Islamist popularity. In February, 43% of Egyptians supported the Muslim Brotherhood, 40% supported the Salafist Nour Party and 62% felt that it is positive to have a strong Brotherhood presence in parliament. A Gallup poll in April found that the statistics fell to 26%, 30% and 47% respectively.”
Notwithstanding all this, perhaps the most decisive voting bloc consists of those tens of millions of impoverished Egyptians who care little about voting, who care little about Sharia or secularism, and are more than happy to exchange their vote for a temporal boon. These, the well-organized Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis—funded by Saudi petro dollars—have been busy buying, including with food and drink.
The outcome of the elections remains uncertain. While Egypt is home to the modern day Islamist movement—giving the world several headaches, including the Muslim Brotherhood, the “godfather of jihad” Sayyid Qutb, and al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri—up until recently it was also home to one of the Islamic world’s most secular and “fun-loving” societies (it’s not called the “Hollywood of the Middle East” for nothing). Yet, based on the spectacular advance of political Islam in the last few decades, one remains pessimistic.
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