Church leaders back Mubarak's son for president

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CAIRO: Most leaders of Egypt s Coptic Orthodox Church would vote for President Hosni Mubarak s son Gamal if he chose to run in the 2011 presidential election, a top cleric said on Sunday.

Anba Morcos, a Cairo bishop and the church s spokesman, said the leadership is opposed to the principle of inheritance of power but would nevertheless endorse Mubarak junior, who heads the ruling National Democratic Party s politburo.

If elections take place, I would vote for Gamal Mubarak because he is an economics man and was brought up in a firmly established political household, and this is the view of most members of the Holy Synod,

Morcos said in an interview with the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm.The Holy Synod is the church s highest council, headed by Pope Shenouda III.

Asked if the backing for the president s son means the church supports inheritance of power, he said: No, we are against inheritance of power.

Egypt is a free country where there is no inheritance. I would support Gamal as a candidate.

Hosni Mubarak has always denied any ambition to start a presidential dynasty similar to the accession in Syria, where President Bashar Al-Assad succeeded his father Hafez on his death in 2000.

But Gamal s meteoric rise through NDP ranks has fuelled speculation that he is being groomed for succession.

In 2005, Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for the last 27 years, won Egypt s first contested presidential election.

In the run-up to the election, Shenouda openly backed the incumbent despite complaints from the Coptic community that the church should stay out of politics.

Egypt s Copts – the largest Christian community in the Middle East – account for an estimated six to 10 percent of the country s 76 million inhabitants and complain of systematic discrimination and harassment. -AFP

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