CAIRO (AP) — A council of Egypt’s Coptic Christians is voting on a new spiritual leader to the ancient church as the community grapples with the rising powers of Islamists.
The charismatic Pope Shenouda III died in March, at the age of 88 and after 40 years as the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church. The congregation represents the majority of Egypt’s Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the country’s 83 million people.
Shenouda’s death, a year after President Hosni Mubarak was ousted, left an increasingly vocal community anxious about its minority status in the face of rising Islamists.
About 2,400 clergymen, community leaders, and Coptic church notables are voting Monday to short-list three candidates from among three monks and two bishops. The final selection is due Sunday.