Court rules to dissolve Islamist parliament in Egypt comment (0)
June 28, 2012
CAIRO, Egypt — Christians in Egypt welcomed a June 14 court decision to dissolve the Islamist-controlled parliament because of election irregularities.
The decision offered hope for Christians, many of whom were convinced the country was about to be handed over to Islamists who would stifle religious freedom and persecute non-Muslims.
“Christians are happy, because they were afraid the Muslim Brotherhood was taking over the parliament,” said Athanasious Williams, a Coptic Christian human rights lawyer in Egypt and a leader within the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.
In the 2011–2012 elections for the People’s Assembly of Egypt, political parties competed for two-thirds of the body’s total 508 seats. Candidates unaffiliated with any political party, also known as “farmers” or “workers” candidates, competed for the rest.
In reality many of the “independent” candidates ran as party members.
On Thursday the Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo ruled that the “independent” candidates who had been sponsored by political parties had been seated unconstitutionally. The entire assembly will be dissolved.
The results of parliamentary elections shocked many Christians throughout Egypt, with parties affiliated with Islamist groups winning 71 percent of the seats in the People’s Assembly.
An increase in attacks against Christians and church buildings after the Jan. 25–Feb. 11, 2011, revolution, combined with the ever-changing rhetoric from the Islamist parties on the subject of Islamic law, had caused anxiety among Christians in Egypt.
Along with the decision to strike the parliament, the court also ruled to allow Ahmed Shafik, the last prime minister of former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, to continue running for president. Shafik, despite his connection to the old regime, is seen by many Christians as a preferable option to Mohammed Morsi, the candidate fielded by the Muslim Brotherhood.