THE 2011 REVOLUTION that led to the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak signaled hope and liberation for the people of Egypt. But many Egyptians and others fear that President Mohamed Morsi, in his actions to consolidate power and quell opposition, has become “Mubarak with a beard.”
Sen. Ehab El Kharrat, a psychiatrist and Christian member of the Shura Council, Egypt’s upper house of Parliament, still looks to his country’s future with hope. Kharrat talked with Mary Theresa Webb early this year while the senator was in Washington, D.C., for the National Prayer Breakfast. Webb is the founder of the GOAL Project, a U.S.-based organization that provides addiction recovery training for churches and communities around the world, including Egypt.
Mary Theresa Webb: You are one of three Christians elected to the Egyptian Parliament. Could you describe why you decided to run for office? How does your Christian faith influence your work?
Ehab El Kharrat: I was elected by both Muslims and Christians to serve the whole people. I stand for love and freedom, and I think these are the things my savior and Lord Jesus stood for. My political involvement is not about the rights of the Christian minority in Egypt, but about the rights and dignity of all.
We on the Shura Council have received threats from violent groups, Muslim extremists, and the secularist terrorist group called the Black Bloc, who wear black masks and defend secular protesters with violence. I once stood up in a human rights session and said that I may be threatened and killed, but I will not accept the Black Bloc members’ violence and pledged all to refrain from such violence. If I die, I die. But I want to keep our revolution peaceful.
I like to think that the spirit of Christ is the spirit of justice, freedom, and love. One of my heroes, Charles Grandison Finney, the 19th-century New England theologian and revivalist, said [paraphrase], “Revolution is inevitable if the virtue or wisdom of the people exceeds that of its rulers, or if the vice and ignorance of the people exceeds that of its rulers.” I like to think that the first half of his statement applies to the Egyptian revolution.