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Egypt's Christians brace for vote & hope for better times

Egypt's Christians brace for vote & hope for better times
By Robert Hackwill
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With President al-Sisi championing the Copts since 2014, their vote looks likely to support the status quo in the presidential election


Egypt is home to the largest Christian community in the Middle East and in this presidential election their priorities appear clear.

Officially 10 million Egyptians, or 10% of the population, are Christian, and since 2013 they, and especially the Copts, have suffered persecution, with their churches attacked across the country.

One imperative is clear. Vote.

"The Church doesn't announce, even I don't say, which candidate we prefer; I don't even tell my family. We see now the security is better than before and at the same time, the terrorist groups, which seek problems, are under control now through Sinai Operation 2018. And we already, as Egyptian Christians can withstand anything for our country," says the director of the Catholic Egyptian Centre, Father Boutros Daniel.

Since Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi took office in 2014 he has tried to improve conditions for the Coptic Christians, giving them near equal rights and benefits as Muslims. The violence has continued, however, but now they can make their votes count.

"It can't be that everyone will participate in the political process and we as Christians don't participate. We will participate regardless of anything," says one Cairo resident.

"I hope to see a day when there is no discrimination among the Egyptians, whether it be sectarian, racial or sexual," said another local man.

"My dreams are that my son will feel safe," said one young mother, "and I feel calm when he isn't at home. How could this be implemented? I don't make policy, it's the responsibility of whoever gets the job to protect me."

In April 2017, churches in Tanta and Alexandria were bombed by extremist Muslims resulting in the slaughter of 43 people, A month later, 28 people were killed when they were traveling near Minya city.

Apart from the burned churches individuals have been targeted, and with many in the community believing that al-Sisi rescued the country by ousting the Muslim Brotherhood, he appears to have this vote sewn up.

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