New president of Egypt meets Christian leaders

Egypt’s newly-elected Islamic President Mohammed Morsi has met with Catholic leaders and assured them that all Egyptians will be protected by the administration.

The meeting came one day after he met the interim leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, which makes up the vast majority of the roughly 8 million Christians in the country.

The new president of Egypt gained 51.7% of the votes against Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, in the country’s freest elections since 1952.

Morsi’s election had fed fears among Christians and more liberal Muslims that the Islamists will use their political mandate to impose conservative restrictions on dress and behaviour, Catholic News Service reported.

Seeking to fulfil a promise of inclusive government, Morsi has resigned as head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and said he would name a woman and a Christian among his six vice-presidents.

Father Rafic Grieche, spokesman for the Egyptian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, noted that Egypt’s Christians had lived under Islamic regimes for 1400 years.

“We hope Morsi will be a just ruler,” he said. “Mubarak’s time was not fair, and I do not think Morsi could be worse.

“At the same time, the people of Islamic tendencies will be working to Islamicise the society. You don’t need laws to do this. It can happen in day-to-day life,” he said, explaining, for example, that an employer might opt to hire a woman wearing a veil rather than one who did not.


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