Tuesday, June 12, 2012

RLPB 163. Egypt: presidential elections (plus Nigeria)

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 163 | Wed 13 Jun 2012

EGYPT: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 16-17 JUNE    (Plus Nigeria)
By Elizabeth Kendal

Egyptians are set to return to the polls over 16-17 June to elect their president. The two contenders -- the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi and Mubarak's Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq -- are poles apart and 50 percent of voters did not vote for either of them in the preliminary polls. The youths who led the protests in Tahrir Square feel betrayed by the process. Rather than choose between political Islam and a secular police state -- something one described as a choice 'between two wrongs' -- they are organising a boycott.

On Thursday 14 June Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court will be ruling on the constitutionality of the Political Isolation Law which the Islamist-dominated parliament passed in April. The law, which bans senior officials of Mubarak's regime from holding political posts, saw Shafiq disqualified from contesting the presidency. However, Shafiq won an appeal against the law which was then referred to the Constitutional Court. If on 14 June the court declares the law valid, then Shafiq will again be disqualified and fresh elections will be called. Whilst the 'revolutionary' forces are hoping for a cancellation that would give them time to re-organise for fresh elections, supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) want the elections to go ahead this weekend as they believe Morsi will have little trouble defeating Shafiq.

To seduce Christians, the MB signed an agreement with Egyptian evangelicals promising to advance religious freedom and equality. When Christianity Today questioned whether the MB could be trusted after reneging on its promise not to field a candidate for the presidency, MB representative Mahmoud Ghozlan responded by saying that the Islamic prophet Muhammad justified reneging on promises when he said: 'If someone swears by his right hand, saying "by God this or that" but then sees something better, he may atone for his right hand and take that which is better.' Ghozlan said the MB promised not to field a candidate before the parliamentary elections showed just how keen the nation is for Islam. After gaining dominance over the parliament, the MB deemed it would be 'better' for democracy if Egypt had a MB president. If the MB win the presidency it will doubtless deem fundamentalist Islam and Sharia Law 'better' than a pact with evangelicals.

The elections could cause a profound fracturing of the state and trigger a spasm of political and sectarian violence. As noted in RLPB 161, Islamists and revolutionary forces have unfairly and unjustifiably attributed the surprise rise of Shafiq (who ran on a platform of stability and security) to a conspiracy by the Coptic Church. Egypt's indigenous Christian Copts could well find themselves being set up as a convenient scapegoat for national anger, no matter who wins. Please pray for God's faithful in Egypt.

For updates on the Egyptian election see: Religious Liberty Monitoring

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL --

* revive Egypt's churches and historically Christian peoples, so that lawlessness and threat will not hinder their preaching of the gospel, their commitment to prayer and their walk of faith: only through Christ shall Egypt be 'blessed' (Isaiah 19).

* awaken Egypt's Muslims to the fact that Islam is not the solution: though there be pain, may there be healing so that Egypt will 'return to the Lord' (Isaiah 19). [Egypt was overwhelmingly Christian before the Arab-Islamic conquests of the 7th Century.]

* give Coptic and other Christian leaders great spiritual discernment and wisdom to lead the church in faithfulness and hope and according to the will of the Lord.

* be a shield and refuge to those who put their trust in him; may he protect their families and provide all their needs.


SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
----------------------------------------------------------------------
EGYPT: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION 16-17 JUNE

Egypt's presidential election -- to take place this weekend unless cancelled by the Constitutional Court -- could readily fracture the state by triggering political and sectarian violence. To secure the evangelical vote, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) -- which has already broken its promise not to field a presidential candidate -- has signed an agreement with Egyptian evangelicals promising to advance religious freedom and equality. Meanwhile they are blaming the Coptic Church for the rise of their opponent Ahmed Shafiq. However, the MB might adhere to its Islamic principles and renege on a pact with evangelicals if it secures the presidency. Also there is great concern that Egypt's indigenous Christian Copts will be made the scapegoat for national anger no matter who wins. Please pray for God's faithful in Egypt.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

NIGERIA: TERROR STRIKES AGAIN

On Sunday 10 June a massive suicide car-bomb ripped through Christ's Chosen Assembly Church in Jos, in the central, middle-belt state of Plateau. The blast occurred around 11am during morning worship and was so powerful the church collapsed. Pastor Monday Uzoka, his wife and two children are amongst the wounded, with Uzoka and one of his elders in a critical condition. Meanwhile, gunmen opened fire inside and around the EYN church in Biu, in the north-eastern state of Borno. [EYN stands for 'Church of the Brethren in Nigeria' in the local Hausa (Muslim) language.] The weekend's toll was at least six believers dead and 52 hospitalised, with many still missing. Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for both attacks and vowed to continue attacking state institutions and churches 'until we achieve our goal of establishing an Islamic state in place of the secular state'.

REMINDER: The National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, has declared Saturday 16 June a day of national prayer and fasting for the country. Please continue in prayer for the Church in Nigeria.