Radical Islam on Rise in Egypt, Christians Afraid

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The Muslim Brotherhood is active throughout the Islamic world and there's concern that the group is taking over the revolution that swept Hosni Mubarak from power in Egypt.

As many have feared, that group is gaining influence in Egypt.

CBN News Terror Analyst Erick Stakelbeck talked more about the growing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood on The 700 Club, April 4. Click play for his comments following John Waage's report. 

Increasingly, the secular faces seen during the protests are being shouldered aside by Islamists, particularly in the recent nationwide referendum that reshaped Egypt's political structure.

One month ago, Mohammed Elbaradei was one of the heroes of the revolution. But on Referendum Day, a mob threw stones at Elbaradei, cursed him, and ultimately kept him from casting his ballot.

He opposed the referendum because he believes new political parties need time to organize and gain support.

According to Elbaradei, holding elections in September only helps established groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. And many in Egypt's Christian community agree with him.

Ramez Attalah is director of the Bible Society in Egypt.

"Democracy in our context gives a grass root majority -- if it's by popular vote -- for a very radical Islam, like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. We expected that if there is a democratic election that the radical Islam would take over the country," he explained.

Radical Islamic leaders pushed hard to pass the referendum, telling Egyptians they had a 'spiritual obligation" to vote 'yes.'

Others took a more worldly approach. One video shows a man filling in dozens of 'yes' ballots. Opponents say thousands of ballots may have been faked.

Clerics also made it clear they would tolerate no changes to the longstanding constitutional provision establishing Islam as Egypt's official religion.

"In this case, we will declare the jihad in the sake of Allah, immediately, God willing," one cleric said.

For Egypt's Christians, the Islamists' actions are a sign they will continue to be second-class citizens. Christians already suffered government discrimination under the Mubarak regime and were the target of deadly attacks by radical Muslims.

They believe that under the Muslim Brotherhood the situation will only get worse.

"What we're concerned about is the long term," Attalah said. "We're concerned about the elections in four years time after these elections. Because what we're seeing now is the nice face will we then see a different approach. Their history seems to indicate that what we're seeing now is not what we will see in the future."

Attalah says the new reality in Egypt doesn't necessarily mean more freedom for Christians. But it could lead to a stronger church.

"I personally believe that if Christians in Egypt are under duress in more difficult situations, their faith will flourish and it will be better for the gospel. If we get the freedom we're yearning for, the gospel as a message and a lifestyle will weaken," he said.

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John Waage

CBN News Sr. Editor

John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN News since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. 

He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.