12/01/2011, 00.00
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Fr Greiche: Too early and misleading to comment election results

Official results will be available only in January. The spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church warns against giving too much credence to claims by the Muslim Brotherhood that it won between 40 and 60 per cent of the vote. Despite their poor organisation and brief existence (six months), pro-democracy parties are growing in strength.
Cairo (AsiaNews) – “Radical Islamic parties have not yet won everything. This is only the first phase of the elections. We must wait for the other two in December and January. It is not true that Egypt will become radical Muslim,” said Fr Rafik Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Church, a couple of days after the first post-Mubarak elections. On Monday, only 17 of Egypt’s 53 million eligible voters cast their ballot. The next rounds in voting are scheduled for 14 December and 3 January.

With results varying according to leaders interviewed and journalists, the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists have already claimed a “partial victory”, saying that they won between 40 and 60 per cent of the vote. Many newspapers, including the New York Times, are reporting that Christians are leaving Egypt in droves and that people are facing a radical change in life, projecting future scenarios of a Middle East and North Africa under Islamist rule.

For Fr Greiche, Islamist parties will win, but it is not yet clear whether their victory will be overwhelming or not. “The Muslim Brotherhood has been around for 80 years. It has worked behind the scenes to win these elections and take power. Pro-democracy parties have existed only for six months, but appear to have reached a significant presence without using the unlawful methods the Islamists use, like offering food and basic items to voters.”

“If the current trend continues, the Muslim Brotherhood will not have an absolute majority in parliament. Hence, liberal parties will be able to prevent any Islamist takeover in Egypt.”

For Fr Greiche, Egypt is not Iran. In the latter, the ayatollahs took over because 98 per cent of the population was Muslim with small minorities. “Our country is the only Arab country with a large and influential Christian community (22 million),” he said. What is more, many moderate Muslims have joined liberal parties, the real backbone of the Jasmine Revolution that swept Mubarak from power.

The leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties want to form a national unity government based on first-round results. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces rejected their demand, saying that it is staying in power to guarantee the country’s stability until after the election process.

Despite risks associated with military rule, many Christians see this as the only viable solution to avoid having to vote based on projections or popular emotions.

Since Egyptians threw out the old regime in favour of true democracy, they decided to take some risks according to the rules of the game. “Over the next little while, pro-democracy parties must organise and inform the public about their ideas, however remote people might be. Only this way will they be able to met challenge of Islamist parties and limit the latter’s power.” (S.C.)
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