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By BosNewsLife Middle East Service with reporting by BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos
CAIRO, EGYPT (BosNewsLife)--Egypt's election commission said Sunday, June 24, that Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood movement has won Egypt's first free elections since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, adding to international concerns over the future of minority Christians.
Judge Farouk Sultan, chairman of Egypt's election committee, said Morsi won with 51.7% of the vote versus 48.3% for Ahmed Shafiq, a former prime minister who was viewed as the favorite among 'Copts', as Christians are known here, despite his ties to the previous regime.
Soon after the live televised announcement, crowds were seen celebrating Morsi's victoty in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
Church leaders have expressed concern that growing Islamic influence could further limit religious freedom and lead to more violence against Coptic Christians, who comprise some 10 percent of Egypt's population, one of the largest religious minorities in the Middle East.
Christians have already complained about attacks against churches and other clashes in which dozens have died and hundreds were injured since last year.
At least 100,000 Copts, as Christians are known here, have fled violence-hit Egypt since 2011, according to Open Doors, a group supporting reportedly persecuted Christians.
However the governing Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has made clear it limited the powers of the president, granting itself more legislative powers, control of the economy and the right to pick who will draft the next constitution.
Under the new rules, whoever becomes the next head of state, has less influence than previously planned.
Egypt's new president can form and fire a government, ratify or reject laws and declare war, but only after SCAF's approval.
Yet, despite these measure's, there are concerns that this will not prevent civil war and more attacks against Christians.
"A military takeover of the democratic process that Egyptians fought so hard to achieve could mean civil war," warned Aidan Clay, the regional manager for the Middle East of advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC).
"A similar situation occurred in Algeria when the army staged a coup just before elections to stop the Islamic Salvation Front from gaining victory in 1991. The result - 150,000 to 200,000 killed in a decade long civil war," he added last week in a statement to BosNewsLife.