Egypt`s Christian pope blasts Islamist president
Cairo: The leader of Egypt`s Coptic Orthodox Church on Wednesday blasted the country`s Islamist president over his handling of recent deadly sectarian violence, including an attack on the main cathedral in Cairo.
The remarks by Pope Tawadros II underscore rising Muslim-Christian tensions in Egypt. They were his first direct criticism of President Mohammed Mursi since he was enthroned in November as the spiritual leader of Egypt`s Orthodox Christians. They are also likely to fuel political turmoil that has been roiling the country since the ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak two years ago.
Egypt is already divided between two camps, with Mursi and Islamist allies in one and moderate Muslims, Christians and liberals in the other. The political schism is essentially over Egypt`s political future after decades of dictatorship, a divide that has been compounded by a worsening economy and tenuous security.
An open conflict between Mursi`s government and the church could add a new and potentially explosive layer, pushing Egypt to the brink of civil strife.
Tawadros also warned that the state was "collapsing" and described Sunday`s attack on the St. Mark Cathedral in central Cairo, which serves as the Coptic papal seat, as "breaching all the red lines."
He said Mursi had promised him in a telephone conversation to do everything to protect the cathedral, "but in reality he did not."
Asked to explain, Tawadros, who spoke in a telephone interview to a political talk show aired on the private ONTV network, said it "comes under the category of negligence and poor assessment of events." It was not clear whether he was accusing Mursi himself or whether he was addressing the president`s government.
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