Coptic Christians fear less friendly Egyptian government

Miami HeraldFebruary 8, 2011 

Nadia Guirguis left Egypt 15 years ago for the same reasons her countrymen are protesting today: She wanted a chance at better jobs, more freedoms and a better life.

But as tumultuous demonstrations raged in her homeland, the Coptic Christian has become a reluctant supporter of the country's widely disliked dictator, President Hosni Mubarak.

While much of the world — from those taking to the streets Egypt to rallies in South Florida — roots for democracy and the immediate ouster of Mubarak, the Copts, a persecuted minority in Egypt that make up a majority of its immigrant population in the United States, are raising concerns that an even less friendly Islamist government could take his place.

"You know, (Mubarak) was okay, not perfect. He was okay. But, you know, now we say he was better. You don't know what's going on after. It's a mirage for us," says Guirguis, who grew up in Heliopolis, a Cairo suburb.

Bowing to pressure from protesters and calls from international leaders, Mubarak has said he will end his 30-year reign and not run for re-election in September. Plans are slowly forming for a transitional government, while Copts such as Guirguis are disappointed that the end is near for the secular, Western-backed leader.

"I wish we could let him stay forever until he died because we are very scared of these Muslim fanatic people," she says.

While protests have attracted a diverse cross-section of Egyptians, including the Copts, the Muslim Brotherhood has become a one of the public faces of the opposition and is expected to play a role in a new government.

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