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Editor: Copts Hope For Strong Liberal Presence in Parliament

January 30, 2013

Will a more secularized parliament improve the outlook for Egypt's Christian minority?

Will a more secularized parliament improve the outlook for Egypt’s Christian minority?

Youssef Sidhom, Chief Editor of Watani, a weekly newspaper for the Coptic community with a circulation of about 250,000, gave an interview to Oasis, the Roman Catholic newsletter on Christian-Muslim encounter.

Elections are looming, and Watani says many Copts are hoping for a reduced number of Muslim Brotherhood and salafist candidates. In the last election, Islamists largely coordinated their efforts so that a single Islamist candidate ran in most districts. Meanwhile myriad secular candidates competed against each other as well as against the Islamist candidates.

Watani emphasized the hope Copts have for that the next election will bring a more vibrant liberal-secular presence to Parliament:

On the one hand there are the Muslim Brothers, the Salafis and other Islamist groups that will create a strong coalition. On the other there are various liberal parties: will they be able to unite in a strong coalition? This is what they have announced and it was comforting to learn last week that in the coming weeks they will try to create a common electoral list identifying one single candidate for each constituency. I hope that they manage to do so and do not argue. It will be the last possible battle.

But he acknowedges that the challenge is that little unites these parties aside from their common antipathy to the religious parties:

They have done nothing to foster the union among themselves. What united them was the announcement of the Constitution, a passage that shocked a great number of Egyptians. This critical situation will keep the liberal parities united. Until today the liberal parties have known what they do not want rather than what they do want. The fact is that the present situation leaves no room to produce a development programme, and it is so delicate that each one has concentrated on the crucial point: to stop Egypt becoming a religious state. In the run-up to the election I do not think that the candidates will use their time to think up a political programme. The game will be played all on one issue: those supporting the civic state and those the religious one. Egyptians, make your choice.

Read the entire interview here.

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