(DUBAI, United Arab Emirates) — Egypt’s Coptic Christians on Monday will vote for a new Pope to succeed Pope Shenouda III, who passed away in March.
It’s a critical time for the ancient Christian community, which is nervous about the rise of an Islamist government in Egypt — the Muslim Brotherhood replaced the secular dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak.
Coptic Christians make up roughly 10 percent of the population in Egypt and they’ve been subject to deadly attacks over years of Muslim-Christian tensions some see getting worse since the Arab Spring.
Pope Shenouda led the Coptic Church for four decades through the end of the Mubarak regime, and was seen as a protector of his community in turbulent times.
To pick the new pope, a Council of Egyptian Coptic Christians will vote from a list of candidates, narrowing them down to the top three. From there, a blindfolded child will pick one of the three names from a box on the altar of a cathedral in Cairo.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio