By Samuel Burke
There’s been a dramatic change of fate in Egypt: Mohamed Morsi was once a prisoner under President Hosni Mubarak. Now Morsi is president-elect of Egypt, at the very same time Mubarak is serving his sentence in the notorious Tora Prison. Now Egypt’s minorities wait to see how their fates will change – among them, Coptic Christians and women.
Monday, Morsi’s policy adviser, Ahmed Deif, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that to allay minority fears, Morsi will execute a strategy of “inclusiveness, inclusiveness, inclusiveness.”
Deif said one of Morsi’s first steps will be to appoint a vice president who is Christian and another Vice President who is a woman.
“For the first time in Egyptian history – not just modern but in all Egyptian history – a woman will take that position,” Deif said. “And it’s not just a vice president who will represent a certain agenda and sect, but a vice president who is powerful and empowered, and will be taking care of critical advising within the presidential cabinet.”
Amanpour asked, “So this is not going to be the Islamic Republic of Egypt? Or is it?”
“Definitely it is not,” Deif answered. “We never called for an Islamic Republic in Egypt. Dr. Morsi was very clear on that, when he said that we are calling on a constitutional, civil, modern state that respects and enjoyes its culture, principles and religions. Not just Islam but Islam and Christianity.”
Before the election Amanpour interviewed Morsi and asked him about how women would figure into the country.
“The role of women in Egyptian society is clear,” Morsi told Amanpour through a translator. “Women’s rights are equal to men. Women have complete rights, just like men. There shouldn’t be any kind of distinction between Egyptians except that is based on the constitution and the law.”
When asked if he could guarantee that he would retain the law that makes it a crime to sexually abuse women, Morsi said, “It will be impossible to allow this kind of abuse in the shadow of a constitutional state, a lawful state, a state that protects the dignity of a person.”
To drive home his point, Morsi briefly switched from speaking in Arabic to speaking to English: “They are all my sisters, my daughters, my wife, and my mother. They are all Egyptians. There are no differences whatsoever among the people of Egypt.”
With Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) maintaining widespread control and the new president’s authority still undefined, the question for now is what type of power Morsi will have, if any, to make decisions affecting minorities and the state at large.