As we go to press with this issue we note with concern the recent increase in violent incidents in Egypt which bear heavily on the Christians there. As a Christian journal we are not primarily concerned with political issues, but it is impossible to chronicle the many injustices against Coptic Christians and the constant provocation of a community which is by conviction pacific, without regard to the society in which they live. As the Coptic Orthodox Church celebrated the thirty-ninth anniversary of Pope Shenouda’s enthronement, noting the many blessings received from his wise and godly spiritual oversight, it would have been good to reflect on the improvements in the lot of Copts in Egyptian society, but sadly this has not been so. Throughout his long pontificate, Pope Shenouda has worked tirelessly and consistently to improve communal relations and encourage Copts to be loyal, patriotic citizens, eschewing violence and factionalism; yet the continuing sectarian tension exposes an ugly side to Egyptian society under a government which has singularly failed to deliver equality and justice for Copts.
The anticipated sweeping victory of the ruling party and the decimation of the Muslim Brotherhood is a welcome outcome, but few will be convinced that it was achieved by democratic means. Attempts to impose western-style democracy on middle-eastern countries has not always had happy results and many rightly feared the consequences had the Muslim Brotherhood made further significant advances; but governments which employ intimidation and corruption retain power at the expense of moral credibility. The Church has largely supported the ruling party and encouraged her faithful to be responsible citizens, participating in the electoral process. It would be encouraging to see the government show its respect and commitment to such legitimate aspirations by supporting its Coptic citizens, yet recent events are not as encouraging as we might wish. Egypt has a vital role to play in the world and many desire to see her prosper rather than fall into the hands of fanatics; but until she can offer fairness and equity to the Copts she will not command the respect she needs to offer moral leadership among the concert of nations.