Pope Tawadros II, head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, warned Thursday that Egyptians should not allow anyone to exploit recent events and affect national unity in reference to a recent series of violent sectarian attacks in the country's south.
"We should not give the opportunity to those who exploit the events in a society which has 90 million people, and suffers from financial difficulties and shortage in financial resources, to affect our national unity because their goal is the destruction of our country," the Pope said.
In a statement after a meeting with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi following a military graduation ceremony, the Pope said that El-Sisi highlighted the importance of the participation of all segments of society in creating a unifying culture against "evil forces".
The Pope also said that the President stressed that whoever violates the law in this regard will be held accountable.
In his speech during a military graduation ceremony earlier Thursday, the president warned against attempts to drive a wedge between Egyptians and vowed to punish those responsible for violent attacks, urging national unity between Egyptians.
His comments come days after a Muslim mob stabbed a Coptic Christian to death during a street argument in the southern governorate of Minya.
On Saturday, a group of Muslims attacked and set ablaze houses of Christians in the village of Abu-Yacoub, also in Minya, after acting upon a rumour that a Christian intended to turn a kindergarten into a church. At least 14 people were arrested over the assault.
In May, Muslim villagers torched seven homes of Christians and assaulted a Christian man's elderly mother, parading her naked in public. The assault in Minya's El-Karm village was sparked by rumours that the man was having an illicit relationship with a Muslim woman.
There are no official figures on the number of Christians in Egypt. But unofficial figures suggest Christians make up around 10 to 15 percent of Egypt's population of 91 million.