THE chances of Egypt's being shaken by further popular unrest
cannot be ruled out, the President-Bishop in Jerusalem and the
Middle East, the Most Revd Mouneer Anis, has said. Any future
uprising could be sparked by worsening economic and social
conditions, and frustration at the slow pace of change in the
aftermath of the revolution that toppled the former President of
Egypt, Hosni Mubarak.
"Another revolution may happen," Bishop Anis said in an
interview with the Church Times this week. "Not
immediately. We are waiting to see what is going to happen. Prices
are very high, and many people have no work and no income. It is
heartbreaking to see my own people suffering."
Strikes over pay and conditions occur daily, and are spreading.
While some holidaymakers are still visiting resorts in the Red Sea,
tourism elsewhere has evaporated, directly or indirectly affecting
the livelihoods of millions of Egyptians. Foreign investors have
not returned to the country since the revolution, and the state's
coffers are dangerously low.
The mood in Egypt as a whole is subdued, as people wait to see
what changes President Mohammed Morsi and his government
For Christian and secular Egyptians, economic worries are
compounded by anxieties about the country's political future. The
body charged with writing a new constitution is dominated by
"What we are hearing about the discussions in the constitutional
commission is very alarming," Bishop Anis said. "The constitution
will define the way the new Egypt looks. It should guard the rights
of the nation as a whole, but it sounds to me that the constitution
will reflect the interests of the majority, without giving
attention to how minorities might play a role."
When asked to comment on how life for Christians in Egypt had
changed since the revolution, Bishop Anis said: "Christians before
the revolution were somewhat oppressed. They had no right to build
places of worship. They were never appointed to top jobs,
especially in the army and security services, and in universities.
Their representation in parliament was small. What has changed
since the revolution? Nothing."
The government had made "lots of promises, but so far we have
not seen any results". Before the revolution, "we felt that we were
oppressed, in the same way that the Islamists were. Now they are in
power, we thought they would feel for others who were oppressed,
and give them the freedom and rights they were deprived of. But we
are still waiting."
Bishop Anis said that there was also dismay that the security
authorities were still failing to investigate attacks on Christians
and church property. Over the past two years, there had been many
such incidents, but few people had been brought to justice. Another
concern was the growing confidence and prominence of Salafists, who
regarded Christians as inferior. While the Muslim Brotherhood was
broadly pragmatic in outlook, "Salafists treat us like
dhimmis [second-class citizens]. Their view is that if we
are not happy here, we should leave."
Many Copts and other Christians had already decided to emigrate,
Bishop Anis said. Unofficial estimates put the figure at 100,000
during 2011 alone. "I know from my own experience within the small
Anglican community that emigration last year was ten times more
than the total over the previous decade."