Church won't back any electoral list in elections, says Egypt's pope

Ahram Online , Wednesday 5 Nov 2014

Pope Tawadros II speaks upcoming parliamentary polls and why now is the not the right time to talk about Maspero

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

Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church won't support a specific electoral list in upcoming elections as all the lists include Christians, said Pope Tawadros II, the country's highest Coptic leader.

In an interview with Al-Hayat TV channel on Tuesday, Tawadros denounced accusations that the church was mobilising Christian votes towards specific candidates and parties, insisting that the church was only encouraging Christians in Egypt to vote in the elections, scheduled to take place by the end of the year.

Despite warning of a return to power from the Muslim Brotherhood, from which ousted president Mohamed Morsi hailed, the pope said he did not believe members of the National Democratic Party or toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak's regime would return to parliament.

However, the pope added "We should not generalise and say that all people were corrupt before the 25 January revolution because generalisation is wrong."

Regarding the Maspero clashes and criticism that the Coptic Church is not following up on the case after three years, Tawadros II said that it wasn't wise to raise the matter now, and that the Church was following the case's legal progression.

On 9 October 2011, 27 Coptic protesters were killed when a peaceful march against the destruction of a church in Aswan and the authorities' subsequent inaction was confronted by the military near the state radio and television building at Maspero in downtown Cairo.

"The current circumstances in Egypt don't allow for this matter to be raised, especially now that the army is wounded, the police are wounded and the economy is weak," he said, adding that the Maspero clashes took place in different time with different government and officials.

"Nevertheless we do not accept the way our children died at Maspero and we hold an annual memorial mass in our churches for them. At the same time we should be wise so we don't waste their rights," he added.

Tawadros said that though the Armenian genocide took place in 1915 by the Turkish Ottoman army, until this day Armenians are still demanding the rights of victims.

"The case and the rights of the victims won't be forgotten, but how and when we raise these matters are important," he said.

Two years ago Tawadros was chosen as the pope of the Egyptian Coptic Church, succeeding the late Pope Shenouda III.

He said his "hardest moment" so far has been the April 2013 attack on Abassiya's Coptic Cathedral, the main Coptic church in the country, during Morsi's rule.

He also mentioned the attacks on churches and related buildings across Egypt following the violent dispersal of two pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo in August 2013.

The pope accused the west of remaining silent.

"The west and the United States used to publish statements if one single church door in Egypt was torched and so many people think churches are protected by the US, but this is untrue," said the pope.

Tawadros also denounced claims from the Brotherhood that he is a "coup supporter" for backing Morsi's ouster, asking how the president's removal could be a coup if the process was started by the Egyptian people with protests on 30 June 2013 – and not by the army.

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