Egypt’s Coptic Pope Tawadros says Islamist rulers neglect Copts

April 26, 2013

(Coptic Pope Tawadros II, head of Coptic Orthodox church, gestures during an interview with Reuters in Cairo, April 25, 2013. EGYPT-POPE/ REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih )

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, Coptic Pope Tawadros II said.

In his first interview since emerging from seclusion after eight people were killed in sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians this month, the pope called official accounts of clashes at Cairo’s Coptic cathedral on April 7 “a pack of lies”.

He also voiced dismay at attempts by President Mohamed Mursi’s Islamist allies to purge thousands of judges appointed under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, saying the judiciary was a pillar of Egyptian society and should not be touched.

“There is a sense of marginalization and rejection, which we can call social isolation,” the pope told Reuters on Thursday of the feelings of Christians, who he said make up at least 15 percent of Egypt’s 84 million people. Most Egyptians are Sunni Muslims.

Attacks on churches and sectarian tensions increased significantly after the rise of Islamists to power following the 2011 uprising that overthrew Mubarak, even though Christians had demonstrated alongside Muslims for his removal.

Asked about the government’s response to this month’s attacks, he said: “It made a bad judgment and it was negligent… I would have expected better security for the place and the people.”
Read the full story by Yasmine Saleh and Paul Taylor here.
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