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Pope Tawadros II has said he will not take sides in the upcoming Egyptian presidential election in which analysts predict that ex-military chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will win in a landslide victory.
The Coptic Orthodox Church leader backed the ousting of the former president and Muslim Brotherhood head Mohamed Morsi in July by military leaders including el-Sisi, but said on Monday that was a “national, not political, decision”.
In an interview with El-Resala newspaper, Pope Tawadros told Egyptians: “Read the electoral programmes of both candidates well, and then make a choice as you see fit.”
El-Sisi has vowed that if he wins, the Muslim Brotherhood will “not exist”. Last month a judge sentenced 683 Brotherhood members to death following a mass trial. The former military head is standing against leftist candidate, Hamdeen Sabahi, in the 26 and 27 May election.
Meanwhile, speaking to The Tablet this week, the spokesman for the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt, Fr Rafic Greiche, said that its bishops’ conference did not back any one candidate, but added that most Christians supported el-Sisi.
While he opposed the death penalty, Fr Rafic defended the Government’s crackdown on the Brotherhood, saying: “The Muslim Brotherhood commits terrorist acts every day against civilians – mainly Christians, women and students. They deserve a very harsh treatment from the people.”