Egypt’s top general is a “hero” and his nomination for the presidency would be a “patriotic action”, said Pope Tawadros II on Saturday evening.
The head of the Coptic Orthodox Church joined other prominent public figures and politicians calling for Minister of Defence Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s candidacy for the presidency in upcoming elections.
During an interview with Kuwaiti satellite channel Al-Watan, the pontiff acknowledged that Al-Sisi had “sweeping popularity” in Egypt as the “hero of the  June Revolution” who had “saved Egypt.”
“[Al-Sisi’s] participation in elections is a patriotic duty to the first degree,” added Pope Tawadros, who has staunchly supported the army-backed roadmap put in place following former president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster.
He added that all voters should make personal choices among the various candidates based on electoral programmes and experience.
The pope criticised Morsi’s presidency and the Muslim Brotherhood, saying they ruled “in the name of religion” while distorting the image of Islam, despite being democratically elected.
He added that he and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb met Morsi at the presidential palace for a two hour meeting approximately 12 days before the 30 June demonstrations. The pope said that the three discussed pressing current matters and that Morsi told them that he expected 30 June to be “a day like any other day.”
However following mass protests against Morsi, the pope said he met with religious and national leaders who all decided that the circumstances were not beneficial to the country. The meeting resulted in the announcement of Morsi’s ouster on 3 July, said the pope.
The head of the largest Christian church in Egypt also praised interim president Adly Mansour for his judicial authority and “balance”, adding that his visit to Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral to extend Christmas wishes earlier this year was an honour and an encouraging sign for Christians who had experienced “decades of marginalisation.”
Pope Tawadros also rejected the idea of the Coptic Church nominating Christian members of the government, saying the task was better suited for the government which could appoint ministers “based on efficiency” and regardless of their religious faiths.
Tawadros, who was selected as the Coptic Church’s 118th pope in November 2012, said that Christians and scores of churches faced an unprecedented organised attack “with the goal of destruction” on 14 August 2013. He added that the reconstruction of churches damaged in attacks was underway, with properties in some secure areas reaching final touches.
He criticised Western media, saying that before it would extensively cover sectarian attacks “even when a door of a church was burned,” saying that he suspected now it had either been misled or was intending to mislead its audience and allegedly played a role in portraying a manipulated image of Egypt.
The pope rejected the term “Arab Spring”, saying “it wasn’t a spring or even an autumn. It was a winter,” adding that the wave of uprisings was encouraged by Western powers that he claimed intended to divide the Arab world “into smaller countries”.