AL-MUHARRAQ MONASTERY, Egypt (AP) – Egypt's Coptic Christian pope sharply criticized the country's Islamist leadership in an interview with The Associated Press, saying the new constitution is discriminatory and Christians should not be treated as a minority.
The comments by Pope Tawadros II reflected the unusually vocal political activist stance he has taken since being enthroned in November as the spiritual leader of the Copts, the main community of Egypt's Christians. His papacy comes as Christians are increasingly worried over the power of Islamists in the country and the rule of President Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood.
Tawadros dismissed a national dialogue that Morsi has been holding, ostensibly as a way to broaden decision-making amid criticism that his government concentrates power in the Brotherhood. Most opposition parties have refused to join the dialogue, as has the Coptic Church, calling it mere window dressing
"We 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," he said, speaking during a visit to the historic al-Muharraq Monastery, a 4th century site 250 miles south of Cairo.