Last year in Egypt I met some amazing people who live in Cairo and have a special interest in the goings-on among the government and church. One of them is W. I asked him for the skinny on the recent happenings.
Andrew: Hi W. I just heard some news about Egypt:
“One of the first decisions will be appointing different vice-presidents. One of them will be a woman, for the first time in Egyptian history – not just modern history, but all Egyptian history, for a woman to take that position.
“Also, he has decided to appoint a Christian vice-president, and they will not just be a vice-president who will represent a certain gender or sect, but a vice-president who is powerful and empowered and will deal with critical files within the presidential cabinet.”
W: Too early to tell Andrew. I do know, though, stories like the one yesterday about Salafi thugs forcing Christians in a church near Alexandria to stop their service and leave town (and then warning the priest to stop encouraging pilgrims to visit it) are more on the minds of believers. (The police, when contacted by the priest mid-service when the thugs had gathered, told him to follow the demands of the thugs! This happened aoccasionally under Mubarak but is regular post-revolution and the more it happens the faster the exodus of Copts will occur - I understand 100,00 left for good in 2011). Sad but true.
Andrew: Yeah I wrote about the exodus and its financial drain. So the vice president will be a Coptic Christian in Egypt? That must be a positive thing? Dont you think?
W: For sure...But the latest word is that the new President will be there 10-12 months...The new constitution (the regime will draw up as it's fixed the system for creating the new constitution) will require a new set of elections.
This thing could indeed be drawn out (a la what the senior activist I talked to last November outside the PM's building he and his friends [who were] blockading said: the revolution will take 10 years, the length of time it will take for the ruling septagenarian generals to die off).
One good thing from the elections is that everybody sees the result as genuine (first time ever). So the potential is there for democracy...We just need to see a civic culture/civic values established in the hearts and minds of the people (which is partly what E21 is all about).
Andrew: Thanks W. Here's a few images I took when you showed me Cairo last year.
Egypt's ruling party's HQ after the fire. Dang. It will need some redecorating for sure.
Lamp in a Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo. Some really amazing historical churches there and lots of stories to go with them.