The Rev. Paul Gordon Chandler is interviewed from Cairo by Episcopal News Service:
The Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler is an Episcopal priest living in Egypt. He has served since 2003 as rector of St. John the Baptist Church in Cairo. In this ENS interview, Chandler reflects on the changes in Egypt over the past two years and speaks about the recent protests triggered by a film containing anti-Islam content.
ENS: Egypt has seen some major transformations in the past two years. How would you describe the country’s current political landscape and infrastructure to someone who doesn’t really understand the context?
P-GC: Where does one start, when it comes to Egypt over the last 18 months, let alone the last few weeks, even days? Each day is so full of surprise that it is hard to stay up with it all.
Obviously, after more than 60 years of authoritarian rule, and decades of being a police state, Egypt is experiencing what might be called “growing pains.” However, it has to be said that in the most democratic elections since 1952, the Egyptians did freely select their leader, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, who won 51 percent of the vote. The famous Tahrir Square went crazy with joy when the announcement was made. Many were jubilant because a proponent of conservative Islam had won. Others, not so excited about this and even concerned about the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, nevertheless rejoiced in the revolution’s true victory.
One of the main challenges right now is related to the basic infrastructure of the country, let alone the economic issues. These challenges are really starting to pile up. There is excessive trash everywhere, less security (the police force is minimal), electricity goes off more and more, less medicines are available at pharmacies, wheat is thought to perhaps soon run out, there are shortages of bottled water, etc.
One respected political analyst here described the current state of Egypt, well with these words: “Egypt is going through a state of revolutionary fluidity…”
However, in the midst of it all, we see so many positive signs that are critical for Egypt’s future health, and recognize that one must have a long-term perspective. So we are rooting Egypt on and are immensely proud of the Egyptians.
Read more questions and answers including the differences between Muslim countries around the world here.