Coptic Pope: Morsi's ouster reflected 'pulse of the street'

Ahram Online, Tuesday 13 May 2014

Pope Tawadros II says Coptic Church has no political role in Egypt; ouster of Mohamed Morsi reflected 'pulse of the street'

Coptic Pope Tawadros II
Coptic Pope Tawadros II, head of Coptic Orthodox church (Photo: Reuters)

The leader of Egypt's main Christian sect has said the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi reflected the “pulse of the street.”

Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, currently on a visit to the United Arab Emirates, spoke to Sky News Arabia about the "fine difference between the political role [of the Church] and its national role."

"The nation was going through a crisis, which made millions of people go to the streets to voice their objections to what was happening," Tawadros said in excerpts of the interview aired on Tuesday.

"I'm supposed to participate with them, but I cannot go to the streets myself. Thus I was there on 3 July, and it represented the pulse of the street."

Pope Tawadros, together with the Al-Azhar Grand Imam and political figures, were present when army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi announced the removal of the elected president on 3 July.

Christians form nearly 10 percent of the country's 85-million population. Their long-term fears of discrimination and extremism increased when Islamists were elected to power.

"The year of Brotherhood rule put all Egyptians in the same boat. The fear that the nation was being stolen made everyone unite," Tawadros said.

Retired army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is expected to trounce leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi in a presidential election on 26/27 May.

"Each candidate has a different vision for dealing with Egypt's problems, but the people will choose the fittest," he said, adding that security was key to the country's recovery.

At least 40 churches were burnt and looted during the violent events that followed the dispersal of pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo and Giza on 14 August 2013.

The Pope is expected to arrive back in Cairo on Tuesday after his five-day visit, which is seen as a gesture of thanks for the UAE's support for Egypt following Morsi's ouster.

He opened an altar at Dubai's Mar Mina Church and met with Emirati officials in his first visit to the Gulf state since he became head of the Coptic Church in November 2012.

The UAE was among Gulf states that backed the overthrow of Morsi last summer and pledged billions of dollars in aid to Cairo in a bid to shore up its collapsing economy.

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