The Coptic Orthodox minority of Egypt, which constitutes for less than 4% of the total population of that country, is living in fear after the announcement of second phase of election results. The first phase results were a complete shock to the community, as more than 70% of the seats were grabbed by the hardliner Islamic parties. The political wing of Muslim Brotherhood, The Freedom and Justice Party garnered 49% of the seats in the first phase and 48% in the second. The ultra-Islamic Al Nour Party received 20% and 28% seats respectively. Al-Wasat, another Islamist party received 3% and 2%. The liberal parties performed dismally. The tally was 10% and 6% for the Egyptian Bloc, 7% and 8% for the Al-Wafd, and 4% and 1% for Revolution continues.
So, it is almost certain that hard-line Islamist parties will form the next government in Egypt, with a majority of close to 80% of the MPs. Now let us examine what this means for the sizeable Coptic Orthodox minority, which numbers around 3,500,000. During the rule of the nominally secular Hosni Mubarak, the Copts were under tremendous pressure. There were routine clashes with the security forces in which dozens were killed. There were reports of forced conversions, kidnappings and destruction of places of worship. The El Kosheh attacks which occurred during 2000-01 resulted in the death of more than two dozen Copts, and were accompanied by the mass emigration of many tens of thousands of them to Western nations.
It is certain that the Freedom and Justice Party will form the next government in Egypt. It needs to be seen whether they will form a government on their own or in an alliance with the Al Nour Party. If latter is the case, then we can expect a very strict interpretation of the Shariah law to be forced upon the Egyptian population very soon, like the case in nations like Saudi Arabia and Iran. The elite section of the Coptic community is likely to emigrate to Europe or towards North America, which can result in further reduction of the minority population. Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow the worship or practice of other religions in its territory (However it should be noted that non-Muslims are present only among the expat population there). Iran, which is having a sizeable population of Christian Armenian and Jewish minorities apply Islamic law to each and every citizen, irrespective of their religion (Dress Codees.etc). Surprisingly, minorities are comparatively safer in Iran compared to some nominally secular Muslim majority nations. So we have to wait and see which way Egypt will tilt – towards the Saudi Arabian model or towards the Iranian model. Unfortunately, the old secular Egyptian model is gone forever.