Egypt — January 2006

Sociopolitical situation

During 2005, Egypt witnessed a disturbed political situation. Several demonstrations by pro-reform and opposition activists took place in February and April. In May, a referendum backed a constitutional amendment allowing multiple candidates to run for presidential elections. On July 23, eighty-eight people were killed and over 150 wounded by the blasts in bomb attacks in Sharm al-Sheikh resort.

In September, President Mubarak was re-elected for a fifth consecutive term. In December, parliamentary polls ended with clashes between police and supporters of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood. Nine people have died since the election began on 9 November. Muslim Brotherhood supporters, elected as independents, won a record 20% of seats. The election has uncovered the weakness of the secular and liberal opposition in Egypt. While the Islamists have achieved success in the face of regular harassment and detentions, the legally recognized parties have failed to make substantial gains despite having greater freedom. For the country’s Christian minority, the election was a disaster. In the short term, President Mubarak’s ruling party will control parliament but its future dominance may be in question. The Brotherhood’s unexpected gains will make it difficult for the government to continue to deny the group legal recognition. The situation leaves Egyptians with a difficult choice between autocracy and Islamism.

On the other hand and despite the achievements of the government, the economy is still hampered by government intervention, substantial subsidies for food, housing and energy, and bloated public sector payrolls. The economy relies heavily on tourism, oil and gas exports, and Suez Canal’s revenues, much of which is controlled by the public sector and remains vulnerable to outside factors. The tourism sector feared a downturn in tourist numbers after the attacks of July; however, so far this sector has not suffered as greatly as expected.

Religious situation

Regarding the religious situation, there were two major events targeting the Coptic Church in the country.

On October 14, 2005, a crowd of about 3,000 Muslim demonstrated in front of Saint George Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria. The demonstrators had come from the nearby mosque after Friday prayers, chanting anti-Christian and anti-Jewish slogans, and threw rocks at the church.

The following Friday saw more riots outside Saint George church resulting in three people killed. More than 10,000 Muslim protesters laid siege to the church, with the church’s three priests as well as about 100 youth inside. The mob waved copies of the Koran and chanted demands that Father Antonious convert to Islam. Soldiers were deployed to subdue the crowd, and police arrested more than 100 people in response to the violence.

On the other hand, President Mubarak named five women and five members of the Coptic Christian minority to parliament. (There are 454 seats in the parliament). It brings the number of Christians in the new parliament to six and the number of women to nine. The low level of Christian representation comes despite the fact that Christians constitute about 10% of the population. This year, the banned opposition Muslim Brotherhood — whose candidates stand as independents — won a record of 88 seats, six times more than in the outgoing parliament.

Recent Posts

Get to know us and stay informed about the impact your support makes.

Nous constatons que votre préférence linguistique est le français.
Voudriez-vous être redirigé sur notre site de langue française?

Oui! Je veux y accéder.

Hemos notado que su idioma preferido es español. ¿Le gustaría ver la página de Asociación Católica para el Bienestar del Cercano Oriente en español?

Vee página en español