Presidential spokesperson Ihab Fahmy on Wednesday said that Assistant President for Foreign Affairs Essam al-Haddad’s statements on Facebook about the Coptic Cathedral incident was an account of events and did not accuse Christians of anything.
Haddad had posted in English that the violence erupted when angry protesters damaged cars parked on Ramsis Street during a funeral for the victims of Khosous, then the situation escalated to pelting stones in the vicinity of the cathedral, then to the exchange of gunfire.
“The church is dismayed by the statement that blamed the Christians for the clashes,” Makary Habib, the pope’s secretary, told Sky News Arabia.
On the relationship between the church and the presidency, Habib said Christians are commanded to obey the president, but this does not mean that they should not tell him how they feel, and demand that he treat all Egyptians equally.
Fahmy also offered the president’s condolences to the families of the Muslim and Christian victims in both Khosous and Abbasseya.
He said the president called the pope immediately after the events and told him he considers the attack an assault on him personally. “The president also dispatched envoys to the church carrying the message that he would not allow attacks against the church, as it is a symbol of the nation,” he said.
“The president sent the interior minister to the scene and ordered the arrest of the perpetrators,” he added.
“In light of the president’s keenness on tackling the problem from the roots and preventing its recurrence, he ordered the re-activation of the National Council for Justice and Equality to promote the principle of citizenship and create mechanisms and guarantees to achieve justice and equality among Egyptians, regardless of religion or gender,” Fahmy said. “And he invited all political forces to share ideas and proposals for the council.”
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm