Egypt votes against ‘religious extremism’

Church spokesman welcomes poll result

Egypt’s acceptance of a new constitution has been welcomed as a vote against “religious extremism” by a Catholic spokesman.

As unofficial exit polls last weekend indicated massive support by voters for a constitution to replace that adopted by the administration of ousted President Mohamed Morsi in 2012, Fr Rafiq Greiche, spokesman for the Catholic Church in Egypt said Egyptian voters were voicing their opposition to “religious extremism, sharia and attempts by the Muslim Brotherhood to Islamise the society”.​

Speaking with AsiaNews, Fr Greiche described the 55% voter turnout as a show of “defiance” by ordinary Egyptians – and not least Christians – who had faced threats and violence in the run-up to polling day. Further, he said, the vote stands as “a signal that the population has confidence in democracy”.

While the new constitution retains the clause making Islam the official religion of Egypt, Fr Greiche pointed out that it also offers protections for minorities, including a guarantee of freedom of religion. Notably, the document also bans political parties based on religion.

Muslim Brotherhood opposition to the constitution was clearly demonstrated in the many violent incidents which have occurred towards dissuading the vote. In one such incident, in the town of El Fayoum, south west of Cairo, shots were fired at the Church of St Michael the Archangel on the night of January 13.