Egypt Pope, al-Azhar Imam encourage Egyptians to Vote

By Mohamed Abdel Salam

CAIRO: Head of the Egyptian Coptic Christian Church, Pope Shenouda II, returned to Cairo on Friaday after a 19-day medical trip to the U.S., where he was undergoing tests at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

Shenouda returned one day before the scheduled referendum on constitutional amendments. The Coptic Church had earlier expressed its rejection of the proposed amendments and called for a new constitution.

State-owned al-Ahram newspaper quoted Shenouda as saying he plans to participate in Saturday’s referendum and he urged Egyptians to cast their votes, whether in favor or against, as he considered that the referendum is the first test of democracy in Egypt after the revolution.

“It is not important whether they vote ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ but it is important for Egyptians to participate in elections,” Shenouda told al-Ahram.

In related news, Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb also called on all Egyptians to participate in the referendum and to express their opinion regarding these proposed amendments. He stressed that he will go to the polls to cast his vote but declined to say which way he would vote.