Low turnout: mandate of the people?

By May 29, 2014
(Photo courtesy Ruth Kramer)

(Photo courtesy Ruth Kramer)

Egypt (MNN) — Egypt’s elections have not gone the way some people wanted them to. SAT-7 USA president Rex Rogers explains, “There’s no unity. There’s no sense of a common vision for what they want Egypt to be, if you add religion to it, which you must, always, everywhere, but especially in the Middle East, then there’s a significant gulf fixed between these groups.”

Due to a poor voter showing, polling has been extended for another day. A national holiday has been declared to clear the way for voters, and those who don’t have a good excuse could be fined for not voting.

After two days’ voting, some elections officials say a mere 15% have turned out of the 54 million voters possible. That’s a stark contrast to the 52% turnout that put Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi in power four years ago.

(Photo courtesy SAT-7)

(Photo courtesy SAT-7)

In this round, post-Morsi, ex-army chief Abdel al Sisi is the frontrunner in the election. But the low turnout threatens his claim of having the people’s mandate. Rogers offers this possible explanation for the ennui: “They’re not going toward the polls, [which] could indicate–COULD–a level of dissatisfaction with the two candidates, or maybe it’s a level of distrust of the actual outcome. In other words: it’s not worth their time.”

In the meantime, news commentators along with pro-military television talk show hosts dominated the airwaves, cajoling and threatening viewers to participate in the elections.

SAT-7, a Christian satellite television ministry to the Middle East and North Africa, has an office in Cairo. Their programming reflects the concerns of the day, giving the community a platform for discussion, notes Rogers. “You can’t exist in a place like the Middle East, specifically Egypt, and not tune in, literally, to what’s happening around you. So to increase the credibility of the ministry, we’ve put more candidates on the air, more panels.”

(Photo courtesy SAT-7)

(Photo courtesy SAT-7)

In the fair exchange of ideas, viewers heard from candidates on different sides of the discussion as well as panel debates. Because they hear from different perspectives, Rogers says, “That increases the credibility of the channel in the eyes of the viewer because they can get more information.”

The SAT-7 live programs also offered opportunity for church leaders to give Godly wisdom, especially during difficult times. The live shows also provide a voice to the local Christian population. “In these programs that we do (you might call them more of a news show or a panel), we are not typically weighing in there with a specifically Christian message. But we weigh in with Christian values, Christian worldview. But in our other programming, we are talking about those kinds of things and, yes, people are responding.”

Pray that SAT-7 programs will encourage Egyptians to place their hope and trust in Christ. Believers in Egypt are praying that they will have opportunity to play an effective role in helping to bring healing and reconciliation in the country.

Persecution exists, but that won’t stop God’s story from bringing hope. Rogers says even in times of trial, “The church can grow; but at the same time, when there’s stability and openness, then, of course, more things can happen in the way of open ministry.”

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