Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat-Head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II, called on the political players in Egypt to demonstrate wisdom so that the country can extricate itself from the current political crisis. The Pope, who was enthroned in November, denounced the calls for civil disobedience and attacking state institutes.
Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria stressed that all parties must demonstrate wisdom in dealing with the country’s difficult political situation. He issued this same call to the leaders of the opposition National Salvation Front, saying that they must make room for consensus and agreement among the different parties in the political arena and public affairs.
As for the Church’s position towards the political escalation being undertaken by some political and revolutionary forces, Pope Tawadros II emphasized, We must give everybody a chance to take a deep breath away from the successive events, and we must also give the ruler a chance to work and implement his view. This comes after Egypt witnessed Cairo police unleashed water cannons and tear gas to disperse a crowd of protesters in front of the presidential palace on Friday. At least one person was killed and dozens injured in running clashes between the police and anti-regime protesters. At the same time as this, pro-government demonstrators staged a rally in central Cairo, reaffirming their support for embattled President Mohamed Mursi, demonstrating the political division besetting Egyptian society.
The anti-government protesters complain that Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood have hijacked the revolution, denouncing the new Egyptian constitution as being pro-Islamist. The Coptic Church had previously withdrawn from the Constitutional Assembly tasked with drafting the new constitution. However the Church lately participated in the national dialogue called for by president Mursi.
In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Pope Tawadros II denounced the civil disobedience and attacks on public institutes, saying This is something that is completely unacceptable adding nobody can accept this because it harms everybody and increases the current decline of the state. The Coptic Pope called on those issuing such calls to give the rulers an opportunity to engage with and respond to their demands.
He also stressed that the Coptic Church had, along with all national political forces, participated in the Al-Azhar dialogue which ended with an agreement to renounce violence and lay the foundations for dialogue.
As for Mursi’s second call for national dialogue, Pope Tawadros II revealed that the Church had yet to receive an invitation to participate in this. He added that the Church supporters any positive effort carried out by any side for national consensus.
Earlier this month, the Coptic Pope had sharply criticized Egypt’s Islamist leadership, particularly its stance towards the country’s minorities. He told the Associated Press, We (the Coptics) are a part of the soil of this nation and an extension of the pharaohs and their age before Christ. Yes, we are a minority in the numerical sense, but we are not a minority when it comes to value, history, interaction and love for our nation.”