- Life Style
Prime Minister Essam Sharaf visited Pope Shenouda III Thursday to offer condolences for the more than two dozen killed when violence erupted during a Coptic protest Sunday.
Sharaf's visit to the pope at his Abbasseya residence lasted nearly 15 minutes, informed sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm.
Violence in front of the state television building, also known as Maspero, left at least 26 people, mostly Copts, dead and sparked fierce criticism of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ (SCAF) management of the country.
Eyewitnesses and reporters said the military fired on protesters and ran them over with armed vehicles, although the SCAF later denied using force.
Some observers have accused the SCAF of failing to confront those behind frequent sectarian clashes.
In their meeting, Sharaf and Shenouda discussed the consequences of the Maspero events, the reasons behind sectarian strife and how to prevent future violence, sources added. Shenouda also emphasized that the Coptic demonstration on Sunday “was peaceful, and [the protesters] weren’t armed.”
Shenouda demanded rapid approval of a unified law for building places of worship and legal settlements for churches that have already been built illegally.
Sharaf was accompanied in his visit by Health Minister Amr Helmy and Tourism Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour. The pope's assistants and some archbishops were also present.
Translated from the Arabic Edition