Israel, Christians Fear Egyptian Election Outcome

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Millions of Egyptians are voting today and tomorrow to choose their president, in the first election since the people ousted longtime ruler and close U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak last year.

However, there are serious concerns that if a hardline Islamist wins, peace with Israel and stability in the Middle East could be in danger.

A former member of the Muslim Brotherhood is the front-runner in Egypt's presidential race, according to a new poll by the Brookings Institution.

Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh leads the field of 13 candidates with 32 percent of the vote.

The Washington Times reports Abolfotoh is an Islamist, and he believes that the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. were an American conspiracy.

Click play for Mark Martin's report followed by comments on the Egyptian election from CBN News Sr. International Correspondent Gary Lane.

Egypt's presidential election is being closely watched across the border in Israel.

An Islamist taking control of Egypt could threaten security in the Jewish state and in the entire Middle East.

"If radical elements, radical new leaders in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East will replace the old regimes, peace with Israel and stability in the whole Middle East are under a great threat," Eli Shaked, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, said.

The fall of Egypt's Mubarak last year cost Israel its main Arab ally, and Israel is now more isolated by the Arab spring.

Israel has serious concerns about the role of Islam and the fate of the historic 1979 peace treaty with Egypt once election results are announced and Egypt's new course is more clear.

Still, some polls show much of the population remains undecided, as high as 56 percent according to one report.

"Undecided votes will play a very important role in the race," Maged Ossman, with the Bassera Centre for Public Research, said. "This means that if, for example, 25 percent of those undecided votes go to one candidate, then probably he will be the first one."

Meanwhile, Egyptian Christians are grateful to have their voices heard. 

"I think it was the first free election after 1952," Nagib Sawiras, a Christian businessman, said. "I think everybody is very happy that finally we can make a choice. I hope that our choice and our opinion would be respected and that the outcome would reflect a real democratic process again."

The overwhelming goal for many Christians is to stop any Islamist candidate from winning.

Many Coptic Christians are concerned that if the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood candidate wins and moves to implement Islamic law, they will suffer even more discrimination.

Many Egyptian Christians are impoverished residents of Cairo's "Garbage City," collecting garbage to sort it, recycle it and sell what they can.

No outright winner is expected to emerge from the two-day vote. If needed, a runoff election will be held June 16-17, with the winner being announced June 21.

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Mark Martin

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Mark Martin is a reporter and anchor at CBN News, covering various issues from military matters to alternative fuels. Mark has reported internationally in the Middle East and traveled to Bahrain to cover stories on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkMartinCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/MarkMartinCBN.