I’m currently in Cairo. The egyptians have just had a revolution and are experiencing their first democratic election in decades. When I arrived here there was still teargas in the air.
I spent much time at Tahrir Square, which was the focal point of the revolution and the violence. By the time I arrived the violence had mostly passed and the atmosphere at the square alternated between carnival and thuggish, with some inspiring moments. For example I was there when about 10,000 devout moslems assembled to conduct the Jumaa prayer. The Imam called for a change in government and a new dispensation for all people in Egypt regardless of religion.
Ten percent of the Egyptian population are Coptic Christians and they form the largest minority in the country. The Coptic Church is one of the oldest Christian sects in the world and some local christians fear an islamist government although the most popular political party (an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood) claims to accept the Copts in a future government and is fielding Christian candidates.
The first round of extremely complicated election process went remarkably calmly. I visited a polling station in a busy neighbourhood supervised by a single policeman and everyone was patient and the process was orderly – with separate lines for men and for women voters. There is no doubt that the final results will show an overwhelming majority for the islamists, but that is no surprise in an islamic country. Hopefully the elections will proceed peacefully and the Egyptians will manage to hold onto their hard-won democracy. Inshallah!