Last week, the official results for the first round of the Egyptian presidential elections ended in a run-off between Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsy and former Mubarak PM Ahmad Shafik.
However, many Islamists blame Egypt’s Christian Copts for voting for Shafik, characterizing them as traitors who are trying to bring bring back the old Mubarak regime.
“These accusations are part of a terror and intimidation campaign to prevent them from voting again for Shafik,” said writer Saad Namnam, “or even boycotting the elections altogether, which would be the same as voting for Morsy.”
“We have been bombarded by the media by accusations from the revolutionary youths and prominent Islamist leaders,” said Caroline Asaad of the Maspero Coptic Youths Federation. “Our friends at college, work and our neighbors all accuse the Egyptian Church of high treason by directing Copts to vote for Shafik.”
The Coptic Orthodox Church had issued a statement before the elections that it wasn’t endorsing any candidate.
“What did they want us to do?” said Coptic activist Mark Ebeid. “Whoever says that supporting Shafik is a crime against the ’25 January Revolution’, we ask him to advise us whom to vote for? The sea is in front of us and the Islamists are behind us.”
Dr. Emad Gad, deputy director of the Al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies, said the latest accusation that the Copts helped Shafik in the election is a premeditated strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood designed to increase the chances of their own candidate in the run-off.
Gad believes the Brotherhood and other Islamist groups want to bring sectarianism back into the elections.
“There is no better way to reap votes like getting religion into elections,” said Gad. “To do so, you have to mobilize people through religion. You also deprive your opponent of his supporters, or the largest number of them, and the easiest way to do this in Egypt is to speak to uneducated or simple Egyptians and tell them that your rival is the candidate of the Church and Copts support him.”
Egyptians who voted for Shafik believe they could oust him in the next election should he prove to be an unsatisfactory president, but if the Muslim Brotherhood gains control of the government, they will never be able to vote them out.