Cairo (AsiaNews) - "The Egyptian people, Muslims and Christians, are discovering the true nature of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists and they are tired of this climate of intransigence and hatred. If elections were held today, extremists would not likely win a majority," said Mgr Youhanna Golta, bishop of Andropolis and patriarchal auxiliary bishop of the Coptic Catholic Patriarchate, as he spoke to AsiaNews. Events in the last two months, he explained, are cause for alarm and show how Islamic leaders are using power unscrupulously to put pressure on local governments under their control.
"For Christians, the situation has worsened," the prelate said. "In the past few weeks, Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist leaders have toned down their rhetoric in the media and public speeches. For some, this is a sign that extremists are undergoing a real change; others fear it might be a smokescreen to hold onto their majority ahead of the upcoming presidential elections."
In the past few days, two Christians were sentenced to prison after a row with Muslims. Today, a court in Edfu sentenced Rev Makarios Bolous, pastor of St. George's Church in the village of Elmarinab, Edfu, in Aswan province, to six months in prison and a fine of 300 pounds because his church was too high. On 30 september 2011, a group of Salafists had torched the church because it it was higher than the minaret of the smallest mosque in the village.
A court in Abanoub, Assiut Province (Upper Egypt) sentenced Makram Diab, a young Copt, to six years in prison for insulting Mohammed and Islam. Local sources said that the young man, a school secretary, was involved in a heated debate with a Salafist teacher who filed a complaint against him with the police. In order to put pressure on the presiding judge, more than 2,500 extremists besieged the court house.
Such cases are frightening moderate Muslims, Mgr Golta noted. There is a danger, he believes, that clashes might break out between supporters of the government, now controlled by Salafists and Muslim Brotherhood, and the partisans of liberal and secular parties, who are trying their best to hold back the disproportionate power of extremists.
"The young people who launched the Jasmine Revolution are opposed to extremist politics," the bishop said. "Even though their faces are largely forgotten, they are still in the forefront of the struggle, willing to give their life for democracy and religious freedom".