50,000 Islamists marched through the provincial capital, Assiut, chanting that Egypt will be "Islamic, Islamic, despite the Christians." At their head rode several bearded men on horseback with swords in scabbards on their hips, evoking images of early Muslims conquering Christian Egypt in the 7th Century.
When you read this, just remember that this Muslim version of the KKK is backed by the Obama Administration which is now supplying with free F-16s. And then try and make it through another lecture on civil rights from one of the toadies of Obama Inc.
A campaign of intimidation by Islamists left most Christians in this southern Egyptian province too afraid to participate in last week's referendum on an Islamist-drafted constitution they deeply oppose, residents say. The disenfranchisement is hiking Christians' worries over their future under empowered Muslim conservatives.
Around a week before the vote, some 50,000 Islamists marched through the provincial capital, Assiut, chanting that Egypt will be "Islamic, Islamic, despite the Christians." At their head rode several bearded men on horseback with swords in scabbards on their hips, evoking images of early Muslims conquering Christian Egypt in the 7th Century.
They made sure to go through mainly Christian districts of the city, where residents, fearing attacks, shuttered down their stores and stayed in their homes, witnesses said.
The day of the voting itself on Saturday, Christian voting was minimal - as low as seven percent in some areas, according to church officials. Some of those who did try to head to polling stations in some villages were pelted by stones, forcing them to turn back without casting ballots, Christian activists and residents told The Associated Press this week.
The activists now see what happened in Assiut as a barometer for what Christians' status will be under a constitution that enshrines a greater role for Shariah, or Islamic law, in government and daily life. Even under the secular regime of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's Christians complained of discrimination and government failure to protect them and their rights. They fear it will be worse with the Islamists who have dominated Egypt's political landscape since Mubarak's ouster in February 2011.
"When all issues become religious and all the talk is about championing Islam and its prophet, then, as a Christian, I am excluded from societal participation," said Shady Magdy Tobia, a Christian activist in Assiut. "If this does not change, things will only get worse for Christians."
The new Coptic pope, Tawadros II, enthroned last month, publicly called some of the charter's articles "disastrous."
In response, the Muslim Brotherhood - which usually keeps a moderate tone toward Christians - has turned toward more inflammatory rhetoric.
Senior Brotherhood figure Mohammed el-Beltagi in a newspaper interview this week depicted mass anti-Morsi rallies outside the presidential palace in Cairo this month as mainly made up of Christians, hinting at a Christian conspiracy against the president.
In a recent speech, Safwat Hegazi, a famous Islamist preacher linked to the Brotherhood, warned Christians against joining forces with former Mubarak regime figures to topple Morsi.
"I tell the church, yes, you are our brothers in Egypt, but there are red lines. Our red line is Morsi's legitimacy. Whoever dares splash it with water, we will splash him with blood," he said, using an Arabic saying.
In Assiut, Tobia, Ramzy and other Christian activists spoke of an atmosphere of intimidation ahead of the vote, including the large Islamist march.
With tension building up over the last four weeks, many Christian voters registered at polling centers located in predominantly Muslim areas did not vote, fearing violence, they said.
Those who made it to polling centers in districts with significant Christian populations were soon frustrated by the long lines or delays, which activists said was intentional. In some cases, they said, Islamists who had voted elsewhere then went to stand in lines in mainly Christian areas to make them longer, increase delays and prompt Christians to give up and leave.
Two Christian clerics said that outside the province's main cities, only about 12 percent of registered Christian voters left their homes on Saturday to vote and that no more than seven percent were able to cast their ballots. They based the figures on statistics gathered by members of the Coptic Church's youth group who monitored voting across the province. The two clerics spoke on condition of anonymity because of sensitivities over the church role in political issues.
In the Christian village of el-Aziyah, only 2,350 of the village's 12,100 registered voters cast ballots on Saturday, according to acting mayor Montaser Malek Yacoub.
There's Obama's new Egyptian democracy in a nutshell. And next time that Obama Inc. begins wailing about long lines in Florida, remind them that is what their handpicked thugs are doing in Egypt.