Egypt's Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo (Photo: Ahram)
Representatives of Egypt's Orthodox and Evangelical churches on Sunday morning declined invitations to meet with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to protest perceived US interference in Egypt's internal affairs.
Bishop Marcus of the Coptic Orthodox Church told Ahram Online that the clergymen's refusal to attend the meeting with Clinton was intended to voice "our rejection of US intervention in Egypt's domestic affairs and the Americans' strategy of favouring certain Egyptian political currents over others."
Safwat El-Beyadi, head of Egypt's Evangelical Church, likewise refused to meet with Clinton, as did the leaders of other churches.
A number of Christian politicians – including rights activist Michael Mounir, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party's Emad Gad, former MP Georgette Qeleini and business tycoon Naguib Sawiris – also refused to meet with the US state secretary during her brief visit to Egypt.
In a joint statement on Sunday, they expressed their displeasure over Clinton's decision to meet with members of Egypt's Coptic Christian community following earlier meetings with Muslim Brotherhood members and Salafists. They asserted that Clinton's move served to "promote sectarian divisions."
Egypt's Free Egyptians party, of which Sawiris is the founder, staged a protest on Saturday against Clinton's visit, calling on Egypt's various political forces to reject perceived US interference in the country's affairs.
Clinton arrived in Cairo on Saturday, where she met with President Mohamed Morsi for the first time since his inauguration. The meeting with Egypt's first freely-elected head of state was followed by a Sunday meeting with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of Egypt's quasi-ruling military council.