Thursday’s two decisions by Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court threw Egypt’s political life in turmoil. Here’s what they decided:
First, it ruled Ahmed Shafiq could run for president. Shafiq, a former prime minister and Air Force commander, is one of two candidates in this weekend’s presidential election. The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) asked the court to disqualify Shafiq since he served in the former government of Hosni Mubarak. The MB based their petition on a law that forbid anyone who served under Mubarak’s government to be part of the new government.
However, the Supreme Court said that law was unconstitutional, opening the door for Shafiq’s candidacy.
The second decision declared Egypt’s new parliament illegitimate. Their decision is based on a stipulation in the constitution that says one-third of the parliament must be independent candidates. However, 70 percent of the parliament elected last September are members of the Muslim Brotherhood or Salafist al-Nouri party so they invalidated those elections.
Those decisions stunned Egypt.
Within half an hour, the Islamists lost most of the political gains they accrued since the fall of the Mubarak government. Some called it a “legal coup” by the courts with the tacit approval -- if not covert participation -- of the army.
But the decisions relieved many Christians. What had been an MB and Islamist political juggernaut seemed stopped in its tracks. Many Christians feared the MB and Salafist parties would invoke Sharia law and marginalize, discriminate, and even persecute Christians. According to one report, the MB candidate Mohammed Morsi was quoted as saying, “They [Christians] need to know that conquest is coming, that Egypt will be Islamic, and that they must pay jizya (the Muslim tax on non-Muslims) or emigrate.”
Some felt if the Brotherhood candidate Morsi wins, it would be the biggest gain for Islam in the past two or three centuries.
Could this be the answer to the prayers of many Christians who feared this Islamist tide would sweep Egypt into a Sharia-dominated nation? After all, these decisions – in one half hour – promised to eliminate all the gains the Islamists made in the past 14 months.
Yet, the situation remains precarious. There’s a political vacuum in Egypt right now. No parliament, no constitution, and Egypt on the cusp of a pivotal and uncertain election this weekend.
The Christians I’ve talked with are asking believers worldwide to pray for them in their hour of need as they and Egypt face this crucial political and spiritual crossroad.
They’re asking prayer for their protection; prayer for their strength in the midst of a tense, uncertain situation; prayer for no more bloodshed in Egypt, and prayer for God to move in this pivotal, influential Middle Eastern nation "for such a time as this."