Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, has gone to the polls for the nation’s first free presidential elections (23-24 May 2012). And on the evening when millions began casting their votes, SAT-7 ARABIC, the Christian satellite TV station, broadcast a special programme of live debate and information featuring national church leaders and political and legal experts.
Who Will The Copts Elect? consisted of two segments – the first half presented by Journalist Hany Labib, and featuring Coptic Orthodox Bishop Marcos from Shoubra el Khayma, Pastor Refaat Fikry, and Father Boutros, the Deputy Patriarch of Catholics in Egypt.
All three leaders described the policies and character to look for in a president who would serve all Egypt’s people well, allowing equal rights to all citizens, regardless of religion, gender or colour. They stressed the need for a vision to improve essential issues such as healthcare, economy, tourism, and freedom of speech.
The leaders also reinforced previous public and media statements refusing to endorse any individual candidates. Instead, they urged Christians to seek God’s guidance and vote in line with their conscience rather than allow anyone to decide for them.
The programme also included a clip of Pastor Sameh Maurice of the influential Kasr El Dobara Church on Tahrir Square, Pastor Sameh repeated the teaching he had been giving for a long while about the separation of church and politics and echoed calls for Christians to seek only God’s advice before voting. He asked them to choose whichever candidate they believe will do the best for the nation and to “keep on praying that God will transform evil to good”.
The second half of the show featured legal expert and ex-parliament member Dr Georgette Kellini, George Ramzy, a head of court, and Nabil Mounir, a lawyer specialising in Christian approaches to law. Viewers were taken through the practicalities of voting step by step and also warned of methods of fraud used in previous elections.
Dr Georgette Kellini gave a strong encouragement to women voters. “The Egyptian woman is no longer afraid,” she said. “We’ve seen Egyptian women side to side with men in [Tahrir] square not only protesting, but taking care of the injured as well.” She stressed how many women are “supporting their families while their husbands are unemployed. The Egyptian woman is neither afraid nor weak. She will be the role model tomorrow to make her family participate in voting.”
Many live callers rang in to the programme, mostly expressing positive views of the presidential elections and praying for God’s will to be done in Egypt. The episode closed with a clip from Egypt’s 11/11/11 event televised by SAT-7 from Cairo’s Cave Church in which Father Makary Younan prayed for the future of Egypt.