The Egyptian president is a secular leader

Coptic Christians enjoy near equal rights in Egypt, a predominantly Muslim country. This was made possible by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the present center of power in the North African nation. In return, the president wants them to vote for him at the time of presidential elections due to be held in March. The church also acquiesces. Egyptian church pastors urge congregants to go out and vote for el-Sissi. To not do so, they say, can be considered a sin.

President el-Sissi has already insured his position much before voting is to be held. The elections, scheduled to occur from March 26 to March 28, are slated to be a foregone affair after the president imprisoned his three major contenders. Four other opponents withdrew their nominations. The campaign among the Coptic Christians is being done to boost turnout. Over 10 million Coptic Christians live in Egypt. The target is to exceed the 2014 turnout of 47.5 percent. el-Sissi won nearly 97 percent of the vote that year. For Coptics, the principal fear is the Islamist resurgence. They are not too concerned about the present president's autocratic tendencies. He was once an army field marshal and headed Egyptian military intelligence.

For Egyptian Christians, the danger from Islamists is all too real. In April 2017, churches in Tanta and Alexandria were bombed by extremist Muslims resulting in the slaughter of 43 people, A month later, 28 people were killed when they were traveling near Minya city. Their destination was a monastery in that region. According to a Christian head, the leadership of the Coptic church prefers the civic equality of President el-Sissi over the record of deposed Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi. The latter's administrative tenure witnessed clashes between Christians and Muslims in front of the St. Mark's Cathedral gates, the home of Pope Tawadros II, the Cairo residence of the spiritual leader of the Coptic Christians. Morsi failed to deploy law enforcement personnel at the scene of the clashes. When Morsi was removed from his post a few months later, Tawadros gave a speech supporting the removal of the former president. The speech was televised throughout the country. A swift military intervention finally placed in the presidential post.

Whatever happens, it is a surety that Christians feel reassured under el-Sissi, the president has built a large cathedral at the new administrative capital rapidly being built a few miles outside of Cairo. The $45 billion project is a reassuringly secular one.

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