AZIYAH, Egypt (AP) — Hymns echoing from the new church in this village in Egypt’s southern heartland could be heard well after sundown, a reminder of the jubilant mood as Aziyah’s Christian residents voted on a new constitution.
Outside in the dusty streets, volunteers hurriedly arranged for buses to transport voters to polling stations before they closed on Wednesday night. In past elections, Islamists used fear or intimidation to stop Christians from voting against them.
This time around, Aziyah’s Christians faced no obstacles on their way to the ballot box.
“I cast my ballot as I pleased. I am not afraid of anybody,” said Heba Girgis, a Christian resident of the nearby village of Sanabu, who said she was harassed and prevented from casting a vote against the 2012 Islamist-backed constitution. “Last time I wanted to say no. I waited in line for two hours before the judge closed the station.”
“This time we said ‘yes’ and our opinion matters,” Girgis added as she walked home with a friend after casting her vote. “This is for our children, for all those who died and suffered. Our word now carries weight.”