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Copts, Islamists face off in Minya run-offs
Published in Daily News Egypt on 11 - 01 - 2012

MINYA: Copts and Islamists face off in southern province of Minya in the run-offs of the final stage of the parliamentary elections as a Coptic candidate fielded by the secular Egyptian Bloc competes with a Salafi candidate for the workers' seat of the third constituency of the single winner seats.

Minya, known to be the stronghold of the ultra-conservative Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya and the province with the second biggest Coptic population, witnessed heated competition between three liberal parties fielding three Coptic candidates on top of their lists to face Islamists in the first round.
In the first constituency for party lists, the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and the Salafi Al-Nour Party both won six seats while Al-Horeya Party, an offshoot of the disbanded National Democratic Party (NDP) and topped by a Coptic candidate, won one seat after great support from Copts.
These results show a rise of “political Christianity” according to researcher in citizenship issues Solaiman Shafik, as Copts voted for Muslims or Islamist parties for religious not political reasons.
Shafik said there is a rift among Copts causing a split in the Coptic votes among the secular Egyptian Bloc and Al-Horeya Party.
Some Coptic voters cast their ballots in favor of the Egyptian Bloc topped sometimes by Muslim candidates because they believe Al-Horeya will not reach the 0.5 percent required to be counted in the party lists system across the country, Shafik continued.
Coptic voters then decline to vote for the party with a Coptic candidate on its list and instead vote for the Bloc topped by Muslims or Al-Wasat Party topped by well-known moderate Islamist Aboul Ela Mady to give fewer votes to the FJP and Al-Nour Party.
The typical religious prejudice, Shafik said, is that a Copt votes for a Copt and a Muslim votes for a Muslim, but there was a rumor-mongering war between the Bloc and Al-Horeya to draw Coptic votes.
Shafik said that what concerns Copts most is voting for whoever will serve their religious and political interests even if this means voting for Muslim candidates.
Shafik believes that Copts will vote for Al-Horeya candidate against the candidate of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya in the workers seat and will vote for the FJP candidate against Al-Nour's candidate in the professional seat in the third constituency.
Shafik said that such a phenomenon is not emerging only in Minya, but was also the trend in Cairo and Alexandria where Copts voted for a candidate supported by the FJP against prominent Salafi candidate Abdel Moneim El-Shahat.

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