The leader of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church on Tuesday blasted the country's Islamist president over his handling of the recent deadly sectarian violence, including an attack on the main cathedral in Cairo.
The remarks by Pope Tawadros II underscore rising Muslim-Christian tensions in Egypt. They were Tawadros' first direct criticism of President Mohammed Mursi since he was enthroned in November as the spiritual leader of Egypt's Orthodox Christians. They are also likely to fuel the political turmoil roiling the country for the two years since the ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Tawadros said Mursi had promised him in a telephone conversation to do everything to protect the Coptic cathedral, "but in reality he did not."
Asked to explain Mursi's attitude, Tawadros, who spoke in a telephone interview to a political talk show aired on the private ONTV network, said it "comes under the category of negligence and poor assessment of events."