CAIRO (AP) — The leader of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church on Tuesday blasted the country's Islamist president over his handling of 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 his first direct criticism of President Mohammed Morsi since he was enthroned in November as the spiritual leader of Egypt's Orthodox Christians. They are also likely to fuel political turmoil that has been roiling the country since the ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak two years ago.
Egypt is already divided between two camps, with Morsi and Islamist allies in one and moderate Muslims, Christians and liberals in the other. The political schism is essentially over Egypt's political future after decades of dictatorship, a divide that has been compounded by a worsening economy and tenuous security.
An open conflict between Morsi's government and the church could add a new and potentially explosive layer, pushing Egypt to the brink of civil strife.