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28 June 2012

Egypt election results welcomed, but Christians urge protection

Egypt election results welcomed, but Christians urge protection

Christian groups have welcomed the results of the first democratic election in Egypt, while urging protection of believers.

This week, Mohammed Mursi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, was voted in as the new president of Egypt with 51.7 per cent of the votes cast following the revolution that began on 25 January.

After the announcement, he pledged to be a president for all the citizens of Egypt, in a bid to allay fears that Christian minorities in Egypt face persecution under an Islamic president.

Commenting on the election result, Bishop Angaelos, general bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK, said it signified "a new step in the continuing process of change through which Egypt has been travelling".

He added: "This process has come at great cost, and after much dedication and commitment from so many, having been inspired by the faithfulness and courage of the Egyptian people, and leading some to offer even the ultimate sacrifice of their lives."

Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, congratulated the Egyptian people on the election, adding: "We particularly welcome Mr Mursi's stated commitment to equality of citizenship regardless of creed, age and gender, and urge him to follow through his encouraging statements on inclusive government for Egypt with actions that support democracy, rule of law and equality before the law for all Egyptians, regardless of religious or political affiliation."

There are concerns that despite the announcement that Mr Mursi will step back from his active involvement in the Muslim Brotherhood, that the party may still have a heavy influence on government.

Release International also welcomed the pledge to represent all Egyptians, however, urged the UK's foreign secretary William Hague to keep human and religious rights at the forefront of any talks with Egyptian and Syrian authorities.

Commenting on the pledge, Release's UK director Colin King, said: "We welcome that, but judging by the exodus of Christians from Egypt, many remain unconvinced. They are looking to president-elect Mursi to protect their security and guarantee their freedoms.

"Release is pleased the British foreign secretary has raised the issues of human rights with the Egyptians and we continue to impress on him the need to keep religious freedom at the top of the agenda in any talks."