Egypt's Copts voting for new pope

2012-10-29 21:05
An Egyptian Christian mourns as he stands next to a blood-stained painting of Jesus Christ outside the Al-Qiddissine church in Alexandria. (Mohammed Abed, AFP)

An Egyptian Christian mourns as he stands next to a blood-stained painting of Jesus Christ outside the Al-Qiddissine church in Alexandria. (Mohammed Abed, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cairo - A council of Egypt's Coptic Christians is voting Monday in a process that will elect a new spiritual leader for the ancient church as the community struggles to assert its identity and role amid a rising tide of Islamism that has left many Copts fearful for their future.

The succession follows the March death of the charismatic Pope Shenouda III at the age of 88 and after 40 years as the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church. The congregation represents the majority of Egypt's Christians, who make up about 10% of the country's 83 million people.

About 2 400 clergymen, community leaders and Egyptian Coptic notables are choosing from among five candidates - three monks and two bishops. Their vote, widely covered by the media, at the main Coptic cathedral in Cairo will short-list three candidates on Monday. The final selection of the new pope will take place in a ceremony on Sunday.

Egypt's Coptic Christians have long complained of discrimination by the state and the country's Muslim majority. Clashes with Muslims over religious rituals, land disputes or Muslim-Christian love affairs have occasionally erupted.

But with the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising last year and Shenouda's passing in March, the community has become increasingly vocal about its rights and emboldened to act beyond the church's hold to demand better representation in politics and freedom of worship and expression.

This became more prominent in the wake of rising powers of Islamist groups long repressed under Mubarak, and after a series of violent attacks against churches and Christians, including by the security forces, and a crackdown on freedom of expression.

The election of Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi heightened fears among the Copts and other minorities that their rights would be curtailed, and that they might become targets of extremist Muslim attacks.

The process of writing the country's constitution, dominated by Islamist groups who are seeking to increase the role of Islam in legislation, has increased those fears.

Bishop Basanti, a member of the Coptic church's Holy Synod, said the new pope will work with the church's local layman council, known as el-Maglis el-Melly, to address the community's demands and reach out to the country's leadership.

"The new pope will be a preacher of peace," Basanti told pan-Arab Al-Jazeera television in Egypt. His priorities "will be to demand the rights of the Copts, the rights of all those killed" in violence, as well as freedom of worship.

Morsi has promised to be inclusive in decision-making and reach out to Christians, but Basanti said the new president has yet to back up the words with steps that would reassure the Copts.

Many among the Coptic community are demanding a change to the church's internal laws to allow for more representation in the running of the church's affairs, and less of a political role for the religious leadership.

- AP
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Oscar Pistorius
 

6 impressive camping tips

Check out these great tips that will make your camping experience so much better!

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Free outdoor yoga classes
Watch: 5 skills to improve your BMX riding
Action camera for all occasions
Tips on how to set your fitness goals

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is an easy social flow and the need to blend in, yet you may not feel entirely comfortable. Something beneath the surface...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.