Three long election days ended with a huge majority win for El-Sisi who claimed close to 97% of the vote. While his vast popularity among the people almost guaranteed his win over opponent Hamdeen Sabahi, the 97% vote was a lot higher than most people anticipated.
Incredible feelings of joy and patriotism filled Egyptian homes and overflowed into celebrations on almost every street in not only Cairo, but throughout Egypt! Fireworks, Egyptian flags, cars honking, patriotic songs played from cars and on TV, were just some of the ways that Egypt celebrated. Hope in a brighter future was finally on the horizon after three long years of socio-political chaos.
Joy culminated as Egyptians worldwide watched an inauguration ceremony of President El-Sisi with world leaders coming to partake in this historical occasion. For the first time in Egyptian history has a president given over reigns of presidency to another. The current president is usually either dead or in jail!
Yet this joy seems to be coupled with caution in the minds of most in regards to the future. Will President El-Sisi really be able to unite a fractured nation? Will he be able to restore the average citizen’s desperate need to feel safe? Will the needs that prompted the January 25th Revolution be met… the need for food, freedom, human dignity, and social justice? The President addressed all of those in his first speech to the Egyptian people during his inauguration celebration… but Egyptians have heard lots of hollow promises over the years, and do not have the capacity to bear any more.
As for Christians, most seem optimistic. Pope Tawadros was invited to President El-Sisi’s inauguration ceremony, seated immediately next to the Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar (Egypt’s most senior Sunni cleric) in the front row. The President mentioned the role of both the mosque and the church in leading the upcoming period, applauding the church’s role in relaying a message to the world of the Egyptian people’s unity, in spite of attempts from certain societal factions to stir dissent and ignite civil war between Christians and Muslims. As the President mentioned in recent media appearances, he was impressed at how Christians reacted to their churches being burned… not in retaliation, but by offering love and forgiveness.
Watch Reuters news report of Al-Sisi’s inauguration and public reactions here
It’s certainly a hopeful time for us here in Egypt. But my prayer is that the Church would not drift back into its comfort zone and begin taking things for granted again. We must continue to engage our people and pray for our nation; for our president, for our upcoming parliamentary elections, and for the future of Egypt. Democracy is just a newborn baby in Egypt that requires a great deal of attention and nurture.