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Egypt`s el-Sissi visits Coptic pope before Easter

AFP | Last Updated: Sunday, April 20, 2014 - 02:34

Cairo: Egypt`s former military chief and presumed presidential front-runner visited the Coptic pope Saturday ahead of Orthodox Easter, making his first public appearance since he formally made his bid for the presidency.

Pope Tawadros II is a strong backer of retired Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who removed the country`s first democratically elected president last summer after a wave of popular protests.

Tawadros backed the military`s overthrow of Islamist Mohammed Morsi and appeared alongside el-Sissi with Muslim leaders and secular politicians after his ouster.

Following Morsi`s removal, rioters burned and vandalized churches and government buildings in the country.
Orthodox Easter is tomorrow and El-Sissi`s visit to the pope`s seat of power at St. Mark`s Cathedral is a tribute to the country`s Christians, some 10 per cent of Egypt`s population.

Morsi never visited the Cathedral, instead sending a representative last year.
Some radical Islamists had argued even against greeting Christians during their holidays. According to a statement, el-Sissi told Pope Tawadros that Christians and Muslims will remain united.

Riding a wave of widespread support for the military after Morsi`s ouster, el-Sissi is widely expected to win the coming May 26-27 presidential election. There is little opposition to the former military chief, who retired before declaring his bid as Egyptian law bans soldiers from running.

First Published: Sunday, April 20, 2014 - 02:34

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