Coptic Pope Tawadros II, head of Coptic Orthodox church, during an interview with Reuters in Cairo, April 25, 2013. (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II expressed his support on Tuesday for the nationwide anti-government protests and the Rebel campaign that calls on President Mohamed Morsi to step down.
"It is wonderful to see the Egyptian people taking back their stolen revolution in a peaceful way, through the idea of Rebel and its youth," he said in a statement via Twitter.
In an earlier statement on Tuesday, the Pope paid tribute to the "three greats of Egypt – the people, the army and the youth."
The Rebel campaign, launched in May, said on Saturday that it managed to collect 22 million signatures calling for Morsi's removal– who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood – surpassing its target of 15 million.
On Sunday, millions of Egyptians went out to protest, called for by the campaign and supported by major opposition groups, demanding that Morsi steps down and holds early presidential elections.
Clashes erupted between the president's supporters and opponents, leaving 16 people dead in violence across the country.
On Monday, the Egyptian Armed Forces issued a televised statement giving Egyptian political forces 48 hours to "fulfil the people's demands," otherwise it would present a political "roadmap" for the country that would include all political currents.
Amid speculations that the army would stage a military coup against the president, the armed forces released a later statement saying that military coups are not part of its doctrine.
Nonetheless, many opposition political forces hailed the army's statement and stressed on their demand for snap presidential polls.
Pope Tawadros II was selected as Egypt's 118th Coptic Pope last November succeeding Pope Shenouda III who passed away in March 2012.
Copts have been critical of Morsi's leadership and of the 2013 constitution that was seen as favourable to Islamists. Clashes between Copts and Muslims have left dozens dead in the past months. However, sectarian strife in Egypt has existed before Morsi assumed power.
In an interview with Reuters last April, Pope Tawadros II said that Egypt's Christians feel sidelined, ignored and neglected by Muslim Brotherhood-led authorities, who proffer assurances but have taken little or no action to protect them from violence.