Church backs NDP candidates in the Brotherhood’s northern stronghold

The Coptic Church’s endorsement of some of the ruling National Democratic Party’s parliamentary candidates is a matter of courtesy and should not reflect any involvement in politics, papal sources said on Saturday.   

“They have our support because they have a close personal relationship with the pope,” said a papal source close to Pope Sehnouda III, referring to recent remarks by church officials backings NDP candidates in the coastal city of Alexandria.   

“This does not mean that these officials are interfering in politics or the parliamentary race,” he added.

The source further said that the Coptic Church “would not slip into the political process”.

The Church has only expressed support for Minister of Administrative Development Abdel Salam Mahgoub and Minister of Legal Affairs Mufeed Shehab, the source added.

"Both enjoy a long-standing friendly friendship with the pope, besides being patriotic figures whose patriotism nobody can question,” the source said.

Mahgoub is expected to face a strong competition from Sobhy Saleh, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate to the 28 November parliamentary elections.

Mahgoub is widely hailed in Alexandria for launching massive development projects during his tenure as Alexandria Governor between 1997 and 2006.  

Saleh was elected to represent the Alexandria’s Raml district in the 2005 parliamentary elections where the Muslim Brotherhood secured over 70 percent of the governorate’s seats in parliament.  

Media reports have recently said that Mahgoub’s campaign posters and banners were hanged on the walls of major churches in Alexandria.    

Kamal Zakher, spokesperson for Front for Secular Copts, meanwhile, urged the Coptic Church to stay out of politics.  

“Equating politics with the NDP has always been a wrong interpretation by the Church,” said Zakher.

Ikram Lamei, head of the media committee of the Anglican Church, on the other hand, said that it is normal for churches to open their doors to ministers and to voice their support for them. 

He added that the Coptic Church takes into consideration that the NDP is the ruling party.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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