Pope Tawadros II Says Egypt's Rulers Neglect Copts

During his first interview since the attack against St. Mark's Cathedral, Coptic Patriarch H.H. Pope Tawadros II said that Christians in Egypt are being ignored by the country's government.

"Egypt's Christians feel sidelined, ignored and neglected by Muslim Brotherhood-led authorities, who proffer assurances but have taken little or no action to protect them from violence," Reuters quoted the patriarch as saying.

The patriarch also expressed his dismay at the regime's attack of Egypt's judiciary, calling it a pillar of Egyptian society that should not be altered. He also described the official accounts of the cathedral events as a "pack of lies."

"There is a sense of marginalization and rejection, which we can call social isolation," the pope told Reuters.

Regarding the government's handling of the recent attacks and rising sectarian violence in the past two years, His Holiness said, "It made a bad judgment and it was negligent ... I would have expected better security for the place and the people."

"After the last incidents, we gained some promises from the authorities and the government, from some ministers, but till now there is nothing new," he said. "Sometimes we get nice feelings from officials, but such feelings require actions, and the actions are slow, and maybe little, and sometimes don't exist at all."

The pope said that President Morsi's advisor Essam Haddad's Facebook account of the cathedral events, which was written in English and directed at the Western media, accused Copts attending the funeral of inciting violence by vandalizing cars outside of the cathedral.

"They did not come to make violence, they came for a funeral, and when they came out of the church, they started to be subjected to violence," he said. "And hence they acted. There is a difference between action and reaction."

The pope said the church had not even been asked to provide its account of events to government officials.

Regarding the government's lack of action and Christian immigration, Pope Tawadros II commented, "Christians' problems and hardships have two sides, a religious side and a civilian one. The religious side involves two main issues: building churches and land."

"I expect the government to facilitate and solve the chronic problems ... For example, the building of a new church takes more than 15-16 years to get permission," he added.

During the interview the pope offered an Easter prayer for Morsi.

"May God help you to serve in the work you are doing and may the situation in Egypt improve and the bridges of trust between all officials and citizens be strengthened," he prayed.