Cairo (AsiaNews) - Former General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's victory in the country's presidential election "makes us happy because so far he has kept his word," said Fr Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church, who spoke to AsiaNews on the day Egypt's new president was elected in what was akin to a referendum.
"He knows that Christians are an important part of Egypt and he wants to defend religious coexistence. If he can provide security and economic recovery, it will be a huge result. We hope this will happen as soon as possible," Fr Greiche added.
Speaking on the vote itself, the Church spokesman first noted that "the recent reports on a very low turnout election are incorrect. On the second day of the vote (Tuesday), 23 million people had voted."
"I think that the extension of the voting process was decided to give as many people as possible a chance to cast their ballot. However, reports that some polling stations were empty was not true. The fact is that the election Commission set up a large number of polling stations so as not to take any chances. This inevitably led to some empty stations."
From this point of view, it is important to note the attitudes of Egypt's various groups. "Salafis, for example, said they were going to vote, and that they were going to support al-Sisi. But looking at the data, it appears that in Salafi strongholds no one voted. Certainly, leaders posed for pictures at polling stations, but their people did not do their duty."
Christians, Catholics and Copts, voted instead. "I told my parishioners that I wanted to see them with your finger stained (from ink - to avoid multiple voting), because it is always important to make one's voice heard."
According to Fr Greiche, this election also had another, very important aspect. "The votes for al-Sisi are a clear call by Egypt's political and civil society against Islamic fundamentalism, which has tainted the Muslim Brotherhood. The latter chose to boycott the vote, but they cannot ignore the fact that the entire country is sickened by the recent violence. Hopefully, they will soon get the message."
Egypt can now hope for a future after so many years of political turmoil. The goal is "stability and security for every community, and economic recovery. These are the fundamental objectives; this work must unite us all. Only this way can we move out of our current mire and return to the glories of the past, which must be our hope for the future."