As presidential election nears, Egypt's Christians worry
(CBS News) Egyptians vote this week in their first free presidential election in six decades. Thirteen candidates, from all over the political spectrum, are running.
CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports Egypt's largest minority fears their situation may go from bad to worse.
Mass at St. Mary's in Cairo starts early, at 7:30 a.m. Even so, the church is nearly full.
The Coptic Christian ritual is ancient and familiar, but outside the door Egypt now feels unwelcoming and unsafe.
Last May, a Coptic church was set on fire. Locals blamed Muslims in the neighborhood. Then in October, Christians protesting the destruction of another church were mowed down by soldiers in armored vehicles.
A year and a half ago, millions joined in the call from Tahrir Square for democracy.
Since then, in this majority Muslim country, Islamic politicians and parties have flourished."Dead" Egyptian awakens during funeral ritual
Egypt military, protesters clash in Cairo
Cairo's streets reflect uncertainty in Egypt gov't
Christians, says Father Pola Marqus of St. Mary's - feel under siege.
"We see that in neighboring countries with Islamic leaders, Christians aren't safe," Margus says. "So we're concerned about getting an Islamist president too."
Egypt's presidential elections are just three days away now and the country's Christians are deeply worried. They are Egypt's largest religious minority, and yet they don't think that any of the candidates has made them a priority, or is really capable of protecting their community.
Two of the front runners in the presidential race with a realistic chance of winning are deeply devout Islamists.
Christians, like Youssef Radana, just don't know what to expect.
"We are in a hazy period where you cannot predict exactyl what is coming. It could be good but it might be worse," Radana says.
And if it does get worse, the future is uncertain for for St. Mary's. It is full this morning, but perhaps not for long.
Since the start of Egypt's political upheaval alone, over 100,000 Christians have already left the country.
- Colo. senator who pushed for gun control may lose job
- Couple's steamy romance e-books save their home
- Two teens stranded 8,000 feet up on cliff rescued by chopper
- 6/18: Officials say NSA stopped over 50 potential terror attacks; Hi-tech giant creates next generation of Edisons
- Innovative Ariz. class turns students' dreams into reality
- David Coleman Headley: Terror sleeper agent foiled by NSA
- Attack at Bagram
- Okla. tornado survivor finds dog buried alive under rubble
- Ghost army: How a group of artists helped win WWII
- President Obama defends decisions on surveillance and Syria
- Couple reeling from recession rewrites story, publishes romance novels
- Officials say NSA programs stopped over 50 potential terror attacks
- Notebook: Banks
- The power of a uniquely American song
- Iran's new president-elect seen as bridge-builder
- 6/17: SCOTUS rules on Ariz. voting law; Couple reeling from recession publishes novels