A young woman with a kerchief on her head lit a candle and prayed Sunday beneath a mosaic of Mary and Jesus at a packed Mass at St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Church. Then she picked up a leaflet next to the candle rack from an organization called Shahid, or Witness. It listed emergency phone numbers, e-mail addresses, Facebook and Twitter information should trouble arise at voting stations during parliamentary elections this week.
For those attending Mass at St. Mark’s, in the upper-class district of Maadi in Cairo, the elections represent the beginning of a democratic Egypt but also instill fear of a party coming to power that favors Islamic law.
It is widely expected that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party will dominate the political landscape. This expectation has already affected the Christian community. Since the Jan. 25 revolution that removed President Hosni Mubarak from power, 100,000 Christian families have emigrated abroad, according to Naguib Gibrael, the Coptic Church’s lawyer.